BBWgaMM i IMHII hi
C. A. KINCAID
HORACE W. CARPENTIER
TALES OF KING VIKRAMA
C. A. KINCAID, c. v. o.
INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE
WITH SEVEN ILLUSTRATIONS
M. V. DHURANDHAR
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
LONDON, BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, MADRAS
tie same Author.
THE INDIAN HEROES,
TALES FROM THE INDIAN EPICS,
TALES OF THE SAINTS OF PANDHARPUR,
A HISTORY OF THE MARATHA PEOPLE,
OLD INDIAN TALES.
Printed at the Kanarese Mission Press, Mangalore.
TO MY LITTLE SON JOHN
THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
TALE I VAJRAMUKUT AND PADMAVATI 13
IE MADHUMALOTI AND HER SUITORS 24
,. Ill KING RUPSEN AND VIRVAR 29
,, IV THE MAINA AND THE PARROT 35
V MAHADEVI AND THE GIANT ....... 49
VI PARVATI AND THE WASHERMAN'S BRIDE ... 54
,, VII PRINCESS TRIBHUVANSUNDARI 59
VIQ KING GlTNADIP AND VlRAMDEVA ..... 63
IX SOMADATTA AND MADANSENA 67
,, X KING GUNSHEKHAR 71
XI KING VALLABHARAM AND THE SEA MAIDEN. . . 74
XII PRINCESS LAVANYAVATI AND THE GANDHARVA . . 79
XIII SHOBHANI AND THE ROBBER 83
XIV PRINCESS CHANDRAPRABHA ....... 88
XV KING JlMUTKETU AND PRINCE JlMUTVAHAN . . 97
,, XVI THE KING AND UNMADINI 106
XVII GUN AKAR AND THE ANCHORITE 112
XVIII THE ROBBER'S BRIDE . 117
XIX THE GIANT AND THE BRAHMAN BOY 124
XX MADANMANJARI, KAMALAKAR AND DHANAWATI . 129
XXI THE LION AND THE FOUR LEARNED MEN . . . 133
XXII THE MAGICIAN AND THE DEAD YOUTH .... 136
XXIII THE THREE SONS OF GOVIND .139
XXIV THE ANCHORITE 146
XXV KING MAHABAL, HIS QUEEN AND DAUGHTER . . 148
THE END OF KING VIKRAMA . 152
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
1. VIKRAMA JIT IN THE BURNING GROUND. . . . FRONTISPIECE
2. THE IMMORTAL GUARDS DHARAMANAGAR 4
3. THEY THEN SENT FOR A LARGE CAGE AND PUT BOTH BIRDS INSIDE 36
4. GANDHARVA RIDING IN HIS AIR-CHARIOT THROUGH THE SKY . 80
5. GARUD FLYING WITH JIMUTVAHAN IN HIS CLAWS ... 101
6. THREE HANDS FROM THE RIVER 122
7. INSTANTLY THE DEAD GIRL AROSE 145
IT is stated in the introduction to the Marathi
version of the Vetal Panchvishi that the book
was translated into Hindi from Sanskrit, when the
Marquis of Wellesley was Governor-General of
India, by one Lalulal. In 1830 A. D. Mr. Sadashiv
Chatre made a Marathi translation. My friend
Mr. Healy of the Bombay District Police first
brought the Marathi version to my notice. I was
then unaware that there was any other. I read it
through and was so pleased with it that I decided
to translate it for the benefit of my own children.
After I had finished my translation, I learnt for
the first time that Sir Richard Burton had ren-
dered the Hindi version into English. Unwilling
to enter into competition with so pre-eminent a
scholar, I obtained Burton's book (Vikrama and
the Vampire) and examined it carefully. I found,
however, that the Hindi version either differed so
widely from the Marathi version or that Burton
had expanded it so much that there was very
little resemblance between his translation and
mine. Moreover he translated only eleven stories,
whereas I have rendered into English all the
I have, therefore, decided to publish my ver-
sion in the hope of affording Indian school children
a pleasant English reading book on familiar and
well beloved themes, and also in the hope of en-
abling English children to read the tales which
are told year in year out in the Deccan villages.
The Deccan Nursery Tales which I published in
1914* are the joy of the Brahman children.
Owing to the differences between modern and
ancient taste, I have here and there taken some
slight liberties with the text. The last chapter is
not to be found in the Vetal Panchvishi. This is
taken from the sequel known as Sinhasan Battishi.
I am indebted to Mr. Shombe for his translation of
the Sanskrit text made by him at my request.
C. A. K.
* Macmillan and Co.
TALES OF KING VIKRAMA
THERE was once a city called Dharamanagar.
In it there ruled a king called Gandharvasen
who had four wives. By them he had six
sons, all wiser and braver, the one than the
other. When King Gandharvasen died, his eldest
son succeeded him. But not long afterwards, he
fell into evil ways. His younger brother Vikramajit,
therefore, slew him and became king in his stead
and began to rule his kingdom with the truest
wisdom and piety. So just, indeed, was his rule
that from day to day his kingdom grew, until at
last all India was beneath his sway. When his
empire had thus been firmly established, the king
conceived a strange longing to see with his own
eyes the various lands which owned his sway, and
the names of which he was always hearing.
To compass his wish, he made his youngest
brother Bhartrihari regent. Then donning the garb
of an anchorite, he began to wander from forest
to forest and from country to country. Now while
the Prince Bhartrihari was ruling, there lived, in
Dharamanagar a Brahman who practised austerities
in a temple to Parvati. The goddess pleased with
his devotion, gave him one day the. fruit which
bestows immortality. He took it home and shewed
it to his wife, saying: "He who eats of this fruit
2 Tales of King Vikrama
will become immortal." The wife replied: "Im-
mortality for people like us would be as bad as
the punishment tor some terrible sin. For, if we
become immortal, it means that we shall have to
beg our food through all eternity. Any death
would be better than that." The Brahman said,
"Your words have troubled my mind. I brought
this fruit, meaning to eat it. But now I shall do
whatever you tell me to." His wife said, "Take
the fruit to the king and ask great wealth as the
price of it. So we shall be true to our religion
and escape the torments of poverty." The Brahman
went to the Prince Bhartrihari and blessed him.
Then he told him about the fruit of immortality
and begged him to take it and give him money
instead. "If you, O king, live for ever," he said,
"your subjects will rejoice and I with them."
The prince accepted the fruit and giving the
Brahman a hundred thousand rupees dismissed
him. He then went into his palace and offered
the fruit to his favourite wife. '* Beloved," he said,
"eat this and you will live and be young fqr ever."
The princess took the fruit gladly ; but she did
not eat it herself. . She gave it to one of whom
she was fonder than life itself. He in turn gave
it to a dancing girl. The dancing girl was pleased
at the gift. But afterwards 'she took the fruit to
sell it to the regent. He gave her a large sum of
money and dismissed her. Then he grew very
sad and cried : " A plague on this world ! Hell is
better than a life like mine ! Happiness lies only
in the worship 6f God and in the life of an
anchorite!" With these words he went into the
palace and asked the princess what she had done
with the fruit. "I ate it," she said. But when the
Prince Bhartrihari shewed it to her, she grew
afraid and could say nothing. The prince flung
himself out of the palace, ate the fruit himself,
donned the garb of an anchorite, left the capital
and fled into the woods.
The god Indra heard of his flight and posted
an immortal in his train to guard Dharamanagar.
Day and night the immortal stalked up and down
outside the town-walls. But the news spread all
over India. Thus King Vikrama*came to hear of
it and at once set forth to return to his own coun-
try. When he reached Dharamanagar it was mid-
night. As he was about to enter the main gate,
the immortal challenged him, "Who are you," cried
the immortal, "and whither go you?" The king
replied, "I am King Vikrama and I am going
back to my own city. But who are you, and why
would you stop me?" The immortal told him that
Indra had sent him, "If," he added, "you are truly
King Vikrama, then before you enter, wrestle
a fall with me." The king girt up his loins and
shouted back, "Come on". Then the two, king and
immortal, wrestled. After a fierce struggle the
king overcame his foe and threw him down and
sat upon his chest. The immortal said, "O king,
you have overcome me, yet I shall spare your life."
The king laughed and said, "Me thinks you are a
* / Vikrama is the same Vikramajit. Vikrama means va-
lour and Vikramajit means valour unconquered. ,
THE IMMORTAL GUARDS DHARAMANAGAR
fool. How can you, who are beaten, talk of spar-
ing my life?" "I can save you from death," said
the immortal, "listen to me and I shall bestow on
you the empire of whole earth." Hearing this the
king freed the immortal and prepared to listen
attentively to his words. The immortal said,
"Listen, King Vikrama. Once in this city there
lived a great and generous king called Chandra-
bhan. One day he went into the woods and saw
an anchorite, who by way of penance was hanging
head downwards over a fire. Next day he for
fun said to his attendants, "I shall give a lac of
rupees to any one who will make that anchorite
return to the worldly life". A dancing girl said,
"O king, if you will permit me, I shall bring that
anchorite to this very spot. I shall bear him a
son and he will come here, carrying the child on
his shoulders". The king said, "I shall be much
surprised if that happens". But he let the girl
take up the betel-nut roll* and leave the palace
that she might take captive the anchorite. The
dancing girl went to where the anchorite was
hanging. He had ceased to eat or drink anything.
Thus he had dried up until he was only skin and
bone. The girl went to him and gently placed a
sweatmeat between his lips. He liked it and ate
it. Seeing this, she gave him other sweatmeats
which he also ate. In this way she fed him with
sweatmeats for two days. Thus the anchorite
* This is the betel-nut roll or Vida which the king lays
clown when he calls for volunteers. He who volunteers
takes it up.
6 Tales of King Vikrama
recovered a little of his strength and coming down
from the tree, asked her who she was and why
she had come. The dancing girl answered, "I am
a god's daughter. I used to practise austerities
in heaven, but now I have come to earth to do
penance here". The anchorite asked her where
Now as the girl went to seek the anchorite,
she had stopped on the way and built a little
hermitage. She showed it to him and cooked
him there a dinner of six courses. So delicate
was the flavour of the dancing girl's cookery,
that the anchorite then and there gave up his
austerities and began to eat, drink and be merry.
And in no long time, he had lost his heart to the
dancing girl. Nor was she cruel. So it fell out
that the anchorite married her and they began to
live together as man and wife. Thus he lost all
the merit that he had acquired by his penances.
In course of time the dancing girl bore the
anchorite a son. When the boy was a few months
old, the dancing girl said to the anchorite, "let us
go to some holy shrine, that we may cleanse our
bodies from sin". Tempted by the idea of the
pilgrimage, the anchorite agreed. As he walked
beside her, she put their son upon his shoulders.
Thus she led him, as she had promised to do, into
the king's palace.
When she came close to the king, he recognised
her and said, "I think that is the dancing girl
whom I sent to bring the anchorite. " His courtiers
said, "Yes, O king, you speak truly, it is she."
Then the dancing girl came up and told the king
the whole story and claimed her reward. The
anchorite saw that she had deceived him and that
the king had sent her merely to stop his penances
and rob him of his merit. In a great wrath he
turned on his heel and fled from the city. As he
went, he killed his son and again entering the
forest, began anew his penances. Not long after-
wards, both the king and the anchorite died.
Now all three, the king, the anchorite and the
child, have been born again in this city. You,
O king, are the king. The child has been born
again as the son of an oilman. The anchorite
has been born in the house of a potter. You have
acquired this kingdom. The oilman's son was to
have become a great magician. But the anchorite
by means of his own magic slew the oilman's
son, and having made a ghost of him has hung
him upside down from a tree. He seeks to slay
you also. If you can escape him, you will reign
for ever. Be, therefore, on your guard, for I have
warned you." So saying, the immortal rose into
the air until he reached Indra's heaven. The
king went into his palace and lay down to rest.
Next morning, the citizens heard that he had
returned; and young and old, rich and poor,
thronged to the palace to see him and offer him
presents. And the sound of music and dancing,
merriment and rejoicing filled the whole city.
Some days later a certain anchorite called
Shantashil came to the king's palace, and placing
an apple in the king's hand, sat down and a few
8 Tales of King Vikrama
minutes later left without speaking. When he
had gone, the king guessed that this must be the
anchorite, his enemy, who sought to kill him. He
did not eat the apple, but gave it to a servant and
bade him keep it carefully. Next day the anchorite
came again and placed another apple in the king's
hand. This he did every day for several weeks.
But one morning the king went with his ministers
and his attendants to his armoury. The anchorite
followed him there and, as usual, put an apple in
his hand. It fell. An ape, that was close by,
snatched it up and tore it open. As the ape did
so, there fell from it a ruby of such brilliance that
none of those standing by could bear to look at it.
The king asked the anchorite, why he had
given him so priceless a jewel. The anchorite
replied, "O king, it is written in the sacred books
that one should never approach with empty hand
either a priest, a king or a god, because by offer-
ing gifts to them one obtains gifts in return. You
talk, O king, of one ruby, but I put a similar ruby,
in each one of the apples that I gave you." On
hearing this the king sent for his servant and
bade him bring all the apples given him to keep.
The servant did so, and the king broke them open
and found a similar ruby inside each. He then
sent for a jeweller and bade him test them. "In
this world," said the king, "the greatest of all things
is truth. Therefore tell me their true value." The
jeweller looked at them carefully and replied,
"What you have said, O king, is just. Where
there is truth, there will be found all the virtues.
Truth serves a man in this world and in the next.
Hear me, O king, these jewels are all exactly alike
in colour, size and lustre. Together they are worth
far more than singly. Yet singly each is worth
more than a lac of rupees." The king was very
pleased. He dismissed the jeweller 'with a hand-
some present. Then he turned to the anchorite
and taking him by the hand, seated him on throne.
"O king of anchorites," he cried, "the value of
your gift is almost equal to the whole worth of my
kingdom. Pray tell me what was your purpose
in making me such a splendid present." "O king,"
said the anchorite, "the future, family quarrels,
money matters, spells, love affairs, medicines, gifts,
a man's honour and dishonour should never be
discussed in public. I cannot tell you what you
ask me in the presence of your household. For
it has been said that a secret heard by six ears
ceases to be a secret; whereas a secret heard by
only four ears remains secret. When only two
ears have heard it, God himself cannot guess it."
The king then drew the anchorite aside and bade
him test him any way he pleased. The anchorite
replied, "O king, on the banks of the Godavari there
is a great burning ground. I wish to complete my
incantations there and thus become master of the
eight* magical powers. Therefore I want you
* The eight magical powers are :
1. Anima or the power to make oneself invisible.
2. Mahima or the power to make oneself infinitely big.
3. Garimaor the power to make oneself infinitely heavy.
4. Laghima or the power to make oneself infinitely small
10 Tales of King Vikrama
to spend a night with me there, for so I shall
achieve my object". The king said, u Certainly, any
night you please." The anchorite chose the four-
teenth of the dark half of Bhadrapad* and bade
the king join him armed that evening. He then
went to his hermitage and thence to the burning
ground where he made the preparation. When
the appointed day came, the king girt on his
sword and dagger and went out alone to join the
anchorite. He bowed to him saying, "O king of
anchorites, I am at your service." The anchorite
said, "O king, sit down." The king sat down and
as he did so, he looked round and saw numerous
ghosts, phantoms and vampires, all of hideous
size and shape. They were dancing in a ring
round the anchorite, who was seated in the middle
and played hellish music on a droning pipe.
The king felt no fear, but asked the anchorite
what his orders were. The anchorite said, "Four
miles to the south of this is another burning
ground. In it you will find a corpse hanging
from a tree, bring it to me." The king started on
his journey. It was a dark and gloomy night
5. Prapti or the power to obtain everything.
6. Prakamya or irresistible will power.
7. Ishitva or universal supremacy.
8. Vashitva or the power to hold others in subjection.
* The Indian year consists of twelve months :
Chaitra, Vaishakh, Jeshta, Ashad, Shravan, Bhadrapad,
Ashwin, Kartik, Margashirsha, Paush, Magh y and Falgun.
North of the Narbada the first month is Kartik. South of
the Narbada the year begins with Chaitra. Bhadrapad
corresponds with August-September.
and heavy rain was falling. All round him he
heard the voices of ghosts and corpses gibbering
and whispering to each other. Yet he strode on
boldly. Serpents coiled themselves round his
legs, but he drove them off by uttering mighty
spells before they could bite him. At last he
reached the other burning ground. There he saw
vampires who were devouring men whom they had
dragged there and witches who were tearing in
pieces the hearts of little children. Tigers stood
and lashed their flanks with their tails. Wild
elephants rushed madly from side to side; and
the whole air seemed filled with noise and horror.
In the burning ground he saw a tree that
seemed to be on fire. Round it voices cried,
"Kill him, catch him, eat him, tear him, look out ?
stop him." Yet the king felt no fear, for he
guessed that the anchorite was the very potter
about whom the immortal had warned him.
Boldly going close to the tree, he looked and saw
a dead body that swung by a rope from one of
the branches. He climbed the tree and drawing
his sword, cut the rope so that the body fell. As
it fell, it shouted, " Kill him, kill him." The king
was pleased when he heard the voice, because he
thought that the body still lived. He got down
and asked the body who it was. The corpse
laughed hideously and rising off the ground,
again began to hang from the tree. The king
marvelled, but he again climbed the tree and
seizing the body round the armpits forced it on
to the ground, "Vile wretch," he cried, "tell me
12 Tales of King Vikrama
who you are or it will be the worse for you."
The dead body made no answer. The king then
guessed it must be the oilman's son, whom the
anchorite had killed and put in the burning ground.
He tied up the dead body with his shawl and
throwing it across his back, set forth to carry it
to the anchorite.
Now it is written that the brave man surely
wins to glory. When the king lifted the dead
body, it began to speak. It asked the king who
he was and where he was taking it. The king
explained. The dead body replied, "If you obey
my orders, I shall go with you. On the way do
not speak a single word; if you do, I shall at once
go back to the burning ground." The king agreed.
He walked on a few steps. Then the dead body
said, "O king, the sages and the wise pass their
time gaily with song and laughter, whereas, fools
spend their days slumbering ceaselessly. There-
fore to shorten our road, I shall tell you a story.
Give heed to it."
THE FIRST TALE
VAJRAMUKUT AND PADMAVATI
TN Waranashi* city there once upon a time
lived a king by name Pratapmukut. His son
was called Vajramukut and his queen Mahadevi.
One day the prince taking the first minister's
son with him went a-hunting. After a time they
found themselves in a dense forest. Suddenly
they saw in front of them a wonderful lake. On
its shores wild geese and duck and cranes and
other kinds of water-fowls sported gaily. Lotuses
bloomed on its waters and on all sides grew leafy
trees. In their dense shade flew soft, cool and
scented breezes. In their branches sang singing-
birds. Here and there bloomed bright flowers
among which could be heard the droning of
Both the prince and his companion were weary.
So tying their horses to the branch of a tree they
quenched their thirst and bathed their hands and
feet in the lake. Then they went and worshipped
at a shrine to Shiva which stood close by.
Now just about this time there came with her
train to the opposite shore of the lake a princess.
She bathed and after bathing, she also worshipped
at the temple to Shiva. Next she began to walk
in the shade of the trees. It so chanced that the
prince left his companion sitting under a tree and
also began to walk in the shade of the forest.
*The old name for Benares.
14 Tales of King Vikrama
Suddenly he and the princess met and saw each
other. When the prince's eyes rested on her, her
beauty overcame him. "O cursed Love god!" he
cried, "why have you come to torment me?" The
princess said nothing but she took a lotus flower
from her hair, placed it behind her ear, broke the
stem with her teeth and touched her foot with it.
Lastly, she thrust it into her bosom. Then entering
her palanquin, s"he and her servants left the spot.
The prince in despair at her departure went to
the minister's son and told him, with downcast
look, what had happened. "O my friend," Vajra-
mukut continued, "I have just seen a lovely maiden.
But I know neither her name nor her dwelling
place. Yet I am resolved that unless I win her
as my bride, I shall take my life."
The minister's son did his best to soothe the
prince and in the end induced him to mount his
horse and return home. Yet Vajramukut remained
so affected by the sight of the fair princess, that
he could neither read, write, eat, drink, nor attend
to state business.. He could only picture to himself
the image of his beloved and weep when he thought
of her. He would neither talk about nor listen
to .anything else. The result was that he grew
daily thinner. At last the minister's son said, "My
prince! he who is entangled in a great passion
rarely escapes, and only then after much suffering.
The wise mafi, therefore, shuns the snare." The
prince replied, "My friend, I am already caught
in the snare. So come^ what may, good or ill, I
cannot escape from it." The minister's son seeing
Vajramukut and Padmavati 15
his condition said, "My prince, did not the princess
speak to you, nor you to her?" "No," Vajramukut
answered, "she neither spoke to me, nor I to her."
"It will then be hard to win her," said the minister's
son." "Then," retorted the prince, "it will be hard
to save me. If I win her, I live; if not, I shall
die." The minister's son was silent for a moment.
"Did she make neither sign nor gesture?" he asked.
The prince answered, " Yes she did. When she saw
me, she suddenly took a lotus from her hair and
put behind her ear. Then breaking the stem with
her teeth, she touched her foot with it. Last of all
she put it in her bosom. " The minister's son smiled
and said, "My prince, be sad no more. I have
read her meaning and I know her name and her
dwelling place." " Tell them to me," cried the prince.
His companion said, "Listen to me, my prince;
when she took the lotus flower from her hair and
put it behind her ear, she meant to tell you that
she dwelt in the Karnatik, for karna, as you know,
means ear. "When she bit through the stem with
her te^eth, she meant to tell you that she was the
daughter of King Dantwat ; for clanta, as you know
means tooth. When she touched her foot with^the
lotus, she meant to tell you that her name was
Padmavati. For padma, as you know, means
lotus and Padmavati or Lakshmi was borne up
on lotuses when slie rose from the ocean. .When
she thrust the flower into her bosom, she meant to
say that she hafl placed your image tKere.
The prince was overjoyed arid told his compa-
nion to take him at once to the princess' city. ,
16 Tales of King Vikrama
Straightway both of them dressed for the journey,
girt on their swords, put money and jewels into
their belts, mounted their horses and started for
the Karnatik. Some days later they reached it
and entering the princess' town came near the
royal palace. Close to it they saw an old woman
sitting gossiping by her door. They dismounted
and going up to her said, "Lady, we are foreign
merchants. Our merchandise is following us. We
have ridden ahead to find a lodging. If you can
hire us a room in your house, we shall be greatly
indebted to you." The old lady looked at them
and, attracted by their handsome faces and courtly
speech said, "My house is yours; stay in it as
long as you wish."
The two young men went gladly to her house,
and a little later the old woman began to talk
freely with them. The minister's son asked her
who she was, of what family she came, and how
she lived. The old woman replied, "I frave a
daughter who is a maid servant in the royal palace.
Once too, I was foster mother to the Princess
Padmavati. Now I am old, I sit idly in my house.
But the king gives me food and clothing and every
now and then I go to see the princess." The
prince was delighted when he heard this. He
gave the old woman a jewel and said, "When you
next go to see Padmavati, take her, I pray you/ a
message from me." "My son," said the old woman,
"why should I delay? Tell me your message and
I shall take it to her at once."
Vajramukut replied, "Tell her that the prince
Vajramukut and Padmavati 17
whom she saw on the banks of the lake on the
fifth of the bright half of Jesht* bas come." The
old woman took her stick in her hand and went
to the palace. She found the princess alone. She
made obeisance to her and blessed her. Then
she said, "In your childhood I gave you all my
love and care and I nursed you myself. Now that
you have grown to womanhood, my one wish is
that you should know the joys of youth". After
softly talking in this strain for some time, the old
woman, seeing an opportunity, said, "The prince
whose heart you stole near the lake on the fifth of
the bright half of Jesht is staying in my house.
He begs you by me to keep the promise that you
made him. For to win your love he has left his
kingdom and come to this far country. And I
would add that he is worthy of you, for he is as
handsome as you are beautiful."
The princess smeared both her hands with
sandalwood paste and slapped the old woman on
both cheeks, saying, "Vile wretch, leave my house
this instant." The old woman went sadly away to
the prince and told him what had happened.
Vajramukut was in despair; but the minister's son
said, "My prince, do not lose heart. You have no.t
grasped Padmavati's meaning. When she slapped
the old woman with ten fingers dipped in sandal-
wood paste, she meant that when ten days had
passed there would be no inoonf and that the
* Approximately June. f There is in the original a
pun on Chandan sandalwood and Chandane moonlight
which cannot be rendered in English.
18 Tales of King Vikrama
night would be more favourable for meeting.''
When ten days, had passed the old woman again
went to see the princess. But the latter dipped
three of her fingers in saffron paste and slapped
the old woman with them on the cheek, saying,
" You wicked woman ! leave the house at once." The
old woman went sadly back to the prince and told
him. Again Vajramukut despaired. But the
minister's, son said, "My prince, there is no need
to lose hope. Padmavati's meaning was that she
had a bad cold and that she would probably not
be well for three days. If you will wait patiently
for three days, she will meet you." When three
days had passed, the old woman for the third time
went to see the princess. But Padmavati in a
passion flung her out of the western window of
her room. The old woman told the prince what
had befallen her. But before he had time to get
dejected, the minister's son said, "Padmavati's
meaning is that you should this very night enter
her room through the western window". On
hearing this the prince was overjoyed.
Late that night the prince and his companion
put on brown dresses, fastened on their swords
and when all was silent,, made their way softly
to the princess' window. The minister's son stayed
outside. The prince climbed through it. The
princess who was waiting for him greeted him
with a smile and shutting the window led him
into the palace. As they went, the prince was
dazzled with its splendours. Court ladies in
coloured dresses and covered with jewels stood
Vajramukut and Padmavati 19
respectfully on each side of the walls with down-
cast eyes and folded hands. In one room a bed
with a golden canopy was decked with scented
flowers. On the table stood vases of roses, of
attar and of betel-nut. Lamps studded with precious
stones shed their light; and the air was heavy
with the perfume of sandalwood, of incense, of
musk and of saffron. Garlands of moghra and
jasmine flowers, of roses, of coral tree and champak
blossoms hung from every door in the palace.
The walls were covered with paintings on golden
backgrounds and were hung with giant mirrors
that dazzled the prince's eyes. Indeed it is im-
possible to describe all the rich and precious objects
which the prince saw. Padmavati led him by the
hand and placed him on a jewelled throne, washed
his feet with her own hands and anointed him
with sandalwood ointment. Then she hung a
garland of flowers round his neck, sprinkled rose-
leaves over his body, put scented powder and
attar of roses on his hands, and then began gently
to fan him. The prince said to her, " Dearest, now
that I have seen you, my heart is at peace. But
why do you toil to give me pleasure ? Your tender
hands are not meant to ply the fan. Give me the
fan and sit at my side." Padmavati replied, "My
king, great was your toil before you found me.
It is only right that now I should serve you".
Just then a maid servant took the fan from her
hand, saying: "Nay, princess, this is my task,
enjoy yourself while I wait on you." Then both
prince and princess ate betel-nut and talked and
20 Tales of King Vikrama
laughed together until dawn overtook them
unawares. The princess hid the prince in a secret
chamber. That evening they were married by
gandharva* marriage rites and they spent the
night in each other's arms. After some days of
happiness the prince would have left the palace,
but Padmavati refused to part with him. When a
month had gone, the prince grew very homesick.
One night he sat thinking how he had left his
country, his kinsmen, his father and, above all, the
friend whose wisdom had won for him the lady
whom he loved. Him he had not seen for a whole
month. "What can he be thinking of me?" the
prince asked himself, "how is he? I wonder." As
he sat sad and restless, the princess came to him,
and seeing that he was unhappy, exclaimed, " O my
prince, tell me your grief. Why are you so dej ected?"
Vajramukut replied, " I have a dear friend, the son
of my father's minister. For a whole month I have
not seen or heard of him. Yet it was his wisdom
which enabled me to guess your signals and to
win you." The princess said gaily, "If you are
thinking of him, you will not be happy with me.
Now listen, my prince, I shall prepare some cakes
and sweetmeats. You go on ahead to see your
friend. Then when I send you the food, you make
him eat it. And after a talk with him come back
* Gandharvas are the immortal minstrels of the court of
the god Indra. A Gandharva marriage is the simplest form
possible of marriage, the Gandharvas being supposed to be
the only witnesses. Still in ancient India it was recognised
as a genuine marriage. It is not so recognised now-
Vajramukut and Padmavati 21
to me as quickly as you can." The prince agreed
and went out to meet the minister's son. The
princess cooked some beautiful cakes and dainty
sweetmeats. Then she put poison in all of them
and sent them to where the prince was sitting,
talking to his friend. The minister's son on seeing
the cakes said, "Prince, where have these cakes
come from?" Vajramukut told him what had
taken place between him and the princess. The
minister's son said, "This is poison that you are
giving me. Happily you knew nothing about it.
Women cannot bear the friends of those whom
they love. I am sorry you spoke to her of me."
Vajramukut answered indignantly: "Such a thing
cannot possibly be true. No one would be so
wicked as to act as you say." As Vajramukut
spoke, he flung a piece of one of the cake to a
stray dog. Directly it had swallowed it, it died in
agony. The prince rose in a fury and said, "I shall
never live with so evil a woman. All the love I
bore for her is dead." The minister's son said,
"Nay, never mind. Let us carry her off to our
own country. She will get all right there." Vajra-
mukut replied, "Be it so; only you must devise a
plan by which we can do so."
The minister's son said, "You must now go back
to Padmavati, my prince. Be as kind to her as if
nothing had happened. Then when she has fallen
asleep, take all her jewels. Draw with marking-nut
juice a trident on her foot and come back here as
quickly as you can." Vajramukut did as his friend
advised and handed over to him Padmavati's
22 Tales of King Vikrama
jewels. The minister's son took them and disguis-
ing himself and Vajramukut as anchorites -- the
former as teacher and the latter as pupil - - went
with him to a burning ground outside the city.
There the minister's son gave one of the princess'
jewels to the prince "Take it," he said, "and sell
it in the town; if any one seizes you, lay the blame
on me." Vajramukut took the jewel to a goldsmith
opposite the palace gate. The goldsmith at once
recognised it as Padmavati's and asked him where
he had got it. At the same time he sent word to
the chief of the Police. When the latter came, he
arrested Vajramukut and questioned him. "My
teacher," explained Vajramukut, "gave it to me to
sell ; but I do not know how he got it." The chief
of the Police at once sent for the teacher and took
both him and Vajramukut to the royal palace and
placed them before the king.
The king asked the teacher, "Where did you get
this trinket?" "Last night," replied the teacher,
"was the fourteenth of the dark half of the month.
I went to the burning ground and uttered an in-
cantation by which I can summon witches. In-
stantly, a witch appeared. She took off her orna-
ments and gave them to me. As she did so, I saw
on her left foot the mark of a trident." When the
king heard the anchorite's reply, he went hurriedly
into his inner rooms and sent word that the
anchorites should be let go. Then he went to his
queen and said: "Look at Padmavati's left foot,
and see if there is any mark on it." The queen
went away and returning in a very short time
Vajramukut and Padmavati 23
said, "O king, I have seen Padmavati's left foot
and there is on it the mark of a trident."
The king's heart sank within him : "One should
not," he said to himself, "publish abroad family
scandals; still I cannot keep in my house a daugh-
ter who spends her nights in burning grounds".
That night he sent for the chief of the Police and
bade him take Padmavati to a dense forest outside
the city and leave her there. Her foster mother,
however, heard of the order and told Vajramukut
and the minister's son. They mounted their horses,
searched the forest until they found the princess
and then rode off with her to their own country.
At this point the oilman's son asked Vikrama,
"O king, who of the above persons, think you,
was most to blame?" "The king was," answered
King Vikrama. "Why?" asked the oilman's son. "The
cleverness of the minister's son," said the king,
"was worthy of the highest praise. The chief of
Police merely obeyed his master's orders. Vajra-
mukut should not have told the princess about the
minister's son. She really acted more or less in
self-defence. But the king without any real proof
judged his daughter guilty and cast her from him."
When the king had finished speaking, he saw
that he was alone. He realised that by speaking
he had broken his promise. On going back to the
burning ground, he saw the dead body hanging
to the same tree as before. King Vikrama took it
down and flinging it over his shoulder began to
retrace his steps. As he went, the oilman's son
began to tell his second tale.
THE SECOND TALE
MADHUMALOTI AND HER SUITORS
ONCE upon a time there was a city called
Dharmasthal on the banks of the Jamna.
Over it ruled a king whose name was Guna-
dhin. At the same time also a Brahman
lived there named Keshav Bhat. He was endowed
with extraordinary virtues and passed his days
on the bank of the river in bathing and purifying
himself, in repeating the names of God and in
contemplating visions of the deity. He had a
beautiful daughter called Madhumaloti, who had
recently reached womanhood and whose future
marriage was being discussed by her family.
One day Keshav Bhat went to attend a wedding
at the house of one of his followers. At the same
time, his son went to be instructed in religion by
his spiritual teacher. Also about the same time
there came to Keshav Bhat's house a Brahman
youth whose beauty and qualities so struck Madhu-
maloti's mother that she promised him Madhumaloti
as his bride. But Keshav Bhat when staying at
his follower's house had also promised to give
Madhumaloti to the son of a Brahman there. And
Keshav Bhat's son had promised one of his friends
at his teacher's house that he should wed his sister.
The two youths came to seek their bride and
found a third claimant for her hand already in the
house. The new-comers were named Trivikram
and Waman. The third was called Madusudan.
Madhumaloti and her suitors 25
But in beauty, merit or learning there was not
the slightest difference between them. The
Brahman became very dejected. For he could
not see how he was going to give his daughter
to all three suitors. Yet he did not wish to break
the promise made to any one of them. While he
sat unable to make up his mind, a snake bit his
daughter. Her father and her three suitors all ran
to her and then sent for the wisest magicians and
snake-doctors of the day. They examined Madhu-
maloti, but pronounced her case hopeless from the
first. One said, "No man bitten by a snake on
the fifth, sixth, seventh or fourteenth of the month
ever recovers." Another said, "No man poisoned
during the asterisms of Rohini, Mag ha, Aslesha,
Vishakha, Mul or Kritika ever gets well." A third
said, "No one bitten by a snake in the limbs,
cheeks, throat, eye or navel ever fails to die." A
fourth said, " When Brahmadev and all the rest of
the gods put together could not cure your daughter,
what can we do?" So saying the wise men went
away. Nevertheless, Keshav Bhat tried many spells
and gave the dead girl many powerful medicines,
but all in vain. At last he lost all hope and taking
the dead body to the burning ground gave her
to the flames and returned sadly to his house.
But one of the three suitors gathered together her
charred bones and becoming an anchorite wandered
with the bones from forest to forest, The second
collected her ashes and building a shed lived in
it that he might guard them. The third abandoning
all idea of marriage wandered through India, from
26 Tales of King Vikrama
one shrine to another. One day he came to a
house of a Brahman to beg a meal. The Brahman
seeing him said, "Welcome, pilgrim, come in for a
while and be seated." When food had been cooked
the Brahman washed the pilgrim's feet and hands
and seated him on a dining stool. His wife began
to serve the meal. When dinner was half way
through, the Brahman's youngest child sought its
mother's breast. The mother tried to push it away,
but it struggled with her and began to cry. She
tried to soothe it, but it grew still more fractious.
Flying into a passion, she picked the child up and
threw it into the kitchen fire. There it immediately
perished in the flames.
At the sight of this terrible act, the pilgrim
rose from his dining stool. His host asked him
what ailed him. The young man replied, "I can-
not eat food in a house where such wicked deeds
are done." The host rose with a smile and taking
up a book of incantations sought in it one that
restored the dead to life. He found it, and as he
repeated it, the burnt infant took back its former
shape. The pilgrim was at first dazed with asto-
nishment. Then he thought to himself that if he
could but make himself master of the book, he
might restore his beloved to life. He, however,
concealed his thoughts and resuming his seat,
finished his meal. All that day he stayed in the
Brahman's house and made himself pleasant to
his host. The same night when all had gone to
rest, he rose and stealing into the inner room seized
the book and at once fled with it from the house.
Madhumaloti and her suitors 27
In a few days he reached the burning ground
where the Brahman girl had been burnt. There
he found the other two lovers sitting and talking
together. When he came up they recognised him
and greeted him courteously. "Brother," said one
of them, " did you find anything in the course of
your travels?" "Yes," replied the pilgrim, "I learnt
the art of restoring the dead to life." "If that is
so," cried the other two, "bring us back our be-
loved." "First," said the pilgrim, "put together
her charred bones and ashes." The others did so.
The pilgrim took out his book of spells, searched
for the one he required and repeated it. Instantly
the dead girl stood in front of them. But at the
sight of her the old desire was at once kindled in
the heart of each one of them and they began to
quarrel, as before, as to who should wed her.
At this point the oilman's son said, "O King
Vikrama, who do you think deserved the maid?"
The king replied, "The one who built a shed and
lived in it with the dead girl's ashes." "But," said
the oilman's son. "if the other had not preserved
the charred bones, and the third had not found the
spell, how could she have come back to life?" "He
who treasured her bones," said King Vikrama,
"acted as a son would have done. He who
brought her back to life acted a father's part, but
he who guarded her ashes and built a shed for
them deserved the maid, for he made her a home."
When the king had finished, he saw that he was
alone. He realised that he had again broken his
promise. Going back to the burning ground he
Tales of King Vikrama
found the dead body hanging as before from the
tree. He threw it over his shoulders and began
to retrace his steps. As he went, the oilman's son
began to tell his third tale.
THE THIRD TALE
KING RUPSEN AND VIRVAR
ONCE upon a time there ruled in the town of
Vardhaman a king named Rupsen. As he
sat one day on the terrace over the porch, he
heard a clamour in the courtyard below. He
asked his servants the cause of it. The door-keeper
said, "O king, a number of strangers have come
attracted by the fame of your wealth and they are
here talking together in the courtyard." The king
was satisfied with this answer. But a few moments
later, a Rajput from Northern India, named Virvar,
who was seeking a post in the royal service,
mounted the stair to the terrace. The door-keeper
said, " O king, an armed man who desires to serve
you has come and stands outside the door. If
your Majesty permits me, I shall lead him in."
The king made a sign of consent. When the
Rajput stood before him, the king said, "Well,
Rajput, what pay are you asking?" "The least
that I can keep myself on, O king," replied the
Rajput, "is a thousand rupees a day." "But how
many men have you brought with you?" asked
the king. "O king," answered the Rajput, "I have
brought only myself, my son and my wife." At
this the men round the king began to laugh.
But the king thought that a man who demanded
such pay must have extraordinary merit. So after
a short pause the king ordered his treasurer to
pay the Rajput a thousand rupees every day.
30 Tales of King Vikrama
The Rajput took his thousand rupees and going
back to his lodging, divided the money into two
halves. One half he divided among the Brahmans
of the town. The other half he again divided into
two quarters. One quarter he distributed among
the monks, the mendicants and the anchorites.
With the remaining quarter he bought food for
the beggars and with part of it he provided a
meal for himself and his family. This Virvar did
every day ; but at night he would take his sword
and shield and stand as sentry outside the king's
private rooms. Whenever the king woke up, he
would ask, " Is Virvar there?" The answer always
came, "Here, O King," and whatever work the king
gave him, he did with the utmost care. Indeed
whether he ate or drank, sat, rose up or walked,
his only care throughout the twenty-four hours
was to further his master's interests and be ready,
no matter when and where he was needed. For
it is said that he who sells himself to another
must be the slave of the other; and if he is the
slave of others, he cannot expect pleasure. No
matter how wise a servant may be, he must remain
dumb with fear in his master's presence. He can
only know peace when he is far from his master.
Thus it is that the life of the servant is even
harder than the life of the anchorite.
One night about midnight the king heard the
voice of a woman weeping in the burning ground.
He called out, "Who is on duty?" Virvar
replied that he was. "Go and see," said the king,
"who is weeping in the burning ground." For it
King Rupsen and Virvar 31
has been said that to test the servant one should
give him work in season and out of season. If he
obeys each and every order, he is a good servant.
If he begins to make objections then he is a bad
one. For it is only in times of trouble that one
can test the worth of a brother, a friend, a wife or
Virvar straightway went through the darkness
in the direction of the sound. The king donned
a black robe and followed him without his know-
ledge, so that he might test him. When Virvar
reached the burning ground, he saw a beautiful
woman covered from head to foot in costly raiment
and laden with jewels. She was weeping loudly
and beating her breast. Virvar asked her why
she wept. She said, "I am the Good Fortune of
the kingdom. The cause of my grief is that there
is a conspiracy afoot in the king's palace. In a
few days my elder sister, the Evil Fortune of the
kingdom, will enter the palace. When she enters
it, I must leave it. The king will first lose his
wealth and a month later his life."
"Is there no way," asked Virvar, "to prevent
this?" "There is a temple to Parvati," replied the
fair woman, "four rpiles from here. If you offer
the head of your son, the danger will pass. The
king will live a hundred years and no evil will
ever befall him."
Virvar on hearing this went to his house, the
king followed him. Virvar woke up his wife and
told her everything. She roused her son and said,
"My son, if your head is offered to Parvati, the
32 Tales of King Vikrama
king's life will be saved and the kingdom will en-
dure for ever. Now what do you say?" The boy
replied, "I give my head gladly, for by doing so,
I shall obey you, I shall be loyal to my king, and
I shall please the goddess. What greater thing
could I achieve than this? Waste, therefore, no
time, but make the sacrifice at once." Now it has
been said that there is no greater joy than an
obedient son, a healthy body, fruitful learning, a
ready friend and a chaste wife. And there is no
greater evil than a miserly king, a cowardly ser-
vant, a faithless friend and a disobedient wife. So
Virvar said to his wife, "If you of your own free
will, give me our son, I shall take him with me
and offer him to Parvati." The wife replied, "You
my husband, have all my love. Compared with
you, I care for neither my son, nor my mother, my
father, nor my brother. For it is written in the
sacred books that neither by charities nor by vows
does a wife become holy, but only by the service
of her husband. And him she must cherish, be he
lame or crippled or hunchbacked or blind or deaf.
No matter how many prayers she may utter or
how many fasts she may keep, yet if she has not
won her husband's favour, all her piety is useless."
Virvar, his wife and his son went together to
Parvati's temple. The king silently followed them.
Virvar entered the temple and standing with fold-
ed arms before the image cried, "O goddess, I am
offering to you my son's head, that by my sacrifice
the king may live a hundred years and that this
kingdom may endure always. When he had
King Rupsen and Virvar 33
spoken, he struck his son a single blow with his
sword, completely severing his head from his body.
When the wife saw the act, she cried out, "O god-
dess, Of what use is life to one so wicked as to
offer her son's head as a sacrifice?" As she spoke
she fell and died in front of the image. When
Virvar saw both his son and wife dead, he said,
"Let my life also be a sacrifice to you, O Goddess."
So saying he cut off his own head and offered it
When the king saw what had happened and
that the whole family had perished, he grieved
deeply, saying, "I am the cause of these three
deaths. It is not fitting that I should enjoy good
fortune obtained at such a price." He drew his
sword and was about to kill himself, as Virvar
had done, when the Goddess Parvati herself ap-
peared before him. She seized both his hands
and said, "O king, your courage has won my
favour. Ask of me any boon you will." "Mighty
goddess," said the king, "the boon I ask is that
you bring back to life Virvar, his wife and son."
"So be it," said the goddess. As the words passed
her lips, life returned to all three dead bodies.
The king bestowed on Virvar half his kingdom
and in his joy did all he could to make him and
his wife and son happy.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, who of all those persons was the most
deserving? Was it Virvar who for his master's
sake sacrificed his only son, or was it, do you think^
the king who for his servant's sake ceased to care
Tales of King Vikrama
either for his own life or kingdom ? " King Vikrama-
jit said, "The king was the most deserving."
"Why?" asked the oilman's son. "To give one's
life for one's master," said King Vikramajit, "is
a servant's duty; to obey one's father is a son's
duty; to act according to her lord's command is a
wife's duty. But to act as nobly as the king acted
towards Virvar is to do more than one's duty.
Therefore, the king deserved the highest praise."
When King Vikramajit had finished speaking, he
saw that he was alone. Realising that he had
again broken his promise, he made his way back
to the burning ground. There he saw the dead
body hanging as before from the branch. Flinging
it over his shoulder, he began to retrace his steps.
As he went, the oilman's son began his fourth tale.
THE FOURTH TALE
THE MAINA AND THE PARROT
ONCE upon a time there lived in the town of
Bhogavati a king called Rupsen who owned a
parrot called Chudamani. One day the king
asked Chudamani what he knew. "O king,"
said the parrot, "I know everything." "Then Chuda-
mani," said the king, "tell me where there lives a
maid fair enough to be my bride." "O king," said
the parrot, "in the country of Magadha, there rules
a king called Magdheshwar. He has a daughter
called Chandravati. Not only her beauty, but her
wisdom makes her worthy of you. Indeed, the god
Brahmadev destined her to be your bride." The
king sent for his astrologers. They consulted the
horoscopes of both the king and Chandravati and
they confirmed what the parrot had said. The
king summoned a Brahman and told him to go to
King Magdheshwar. "If," said the king, "you
arrange my marriage with the princess, I shall
give you a great reward." The Brahman made
obeisance and setting forth for Magdheshwar
reached it after some days.
Now princess Chandravati had a maina* called
Madanamanjari that was just as learned and
shrewd as Chudamani. One day the princess said
to her maina, "Tell me Madanamanjari, where
lives the prince who is fitted to be my husband."
"My princess," said the maina, "Rupsen, king of
* A kind of jay.
'THEY THEN SENT FOR A LARGE CAGE AND PUT BOTH BIRDS INSIDE'
The Maina and the Parrot 37
Bhogavati, is so beautiful and brave that the god
Brahmadev has destined him to be your husband."
Hearing the words of Madanamanjari, the princess,
although she had never seen Rupsen, fell deeply
in love with him. Shortly afterwards the Brahman
sent by king Rupsen reached king Magdheshwar's
court and announced his master's offer of marriage.
King Magdheshwar accepted the offer and sent
back a Brahman of his own with king Rupsen's
envoy to announce his acceptance. He bade his
messenger bring back king Rupsen with him. He
in the mean time would make all preparations for
the royal wedding.
The two Brahmans set out together and some
clays later reached Bhogavati and told king Rupsen.
The king was delighted and after due preparation
started for Magadha. There he was married to
the princess Chandravati with great pomp and
ceremony. Afterwards he took his bride and a
vast dowry back to his own city Bhogavati.
Chandravati took with her the maina in a cage.
One day the king and the queen in the greatness
of their own happiness resolved to marry the
parrot to the maina. They had the two birds
brought before them and said, "To live alone is
unendurable. If we marry the parrot and the
maina, and put them both together in a single
cage, they will learn what true happiness is."
They then sent for a large cage and put both
birds inside it. The following day when the king
and queen were talking together, the parrot began
to make friendly advances towards the maina, but
38 Tales of King Vikrama
it repulsed them all saying, "I never did care
about men. They are sinful, mean, deceitful and
they are all wife-murderers." At this the parrot
angrily retorted, " No ! it is women who are deceit-
ful, treacherous and faithless."
At this the main a began to shriek at the parrot
and the parrot began to scream back at the maina,
until at last the king asked them what they were
quarrelling about. The maina answered, "I cannot
bear men. They are always wicked and cruel to
their wives. I do not want to have anything to
do with them." The king asked in surprise, " Why
do you say that?" The maina said, "O king, listen
to this story and you will understand."
The Maina's Story
Once upon a time there was a town called
Ilapur. In it there lived a merchant named
Mahadhan. He had no offspring. So to get a
child he was always going on pilgrimages, making
and fulfilling vows, practising austerities, offering
gifts to temples and listening to religious discourses.
At last through God's mercy a son was born to
him. When the boy grew up, his father married
him with great pomp and ceremony and gave huge
sums of money to Brahmans. He also fed hand-
somely bards, necromancers, singers, players,
jugglers and such like, and gave large charities to
beggars. After the wedding festivities were over,
Mahadhan sent his son back to school. But such
was the boy's nature that he continually played
truant, stopping on the way to gamble with other
The Maina and the Parrot 39
boys of his own age. When the boy had reached
early manhood, Mahadhan died and his son became
master of his wealth. Freed now from all restraint,
the youth spent his days in gambling and his
nights in riot. In this way he squandered away
his fortune and got so bad a name that he was
forced to flee from the country and take refuge in
the town of Chandrapur.
There he went to the house of a very respect-
able trader called Hemgupta. The latter had
known his father and after hearing the young
man's story and satisfying himself by various
questions that he really was Mahadhan's son he
gave the youth a hearty welcome. Then he asked
him why he had come to Chandrapur. The young
man replied that he had bought a vessel full of
merchandise, meaning to sell its cargo on a certain
island. This he had done at a great profit and
then had re-embarked with other merchandise up-
on a ship returning to his own country. Suddenly
a storm had arisen. The ship had foundered with
all her cargo and all her crew. By good fortune
he had seized a plank and clinging to it had
reached the shore, all but drowned. "Now I am
a beggar/' continued Mahadhan's son, "and I am
ashamed to return to my own country."
On hearing this tale, Hemgupta said to himself:
"This is a piece of luck! My anxieties are now
over. This good fortune must have come from
the hand of God. The lad is of an ancient and
honourable family. I shall give him my daughter
in marriage." He mentioned the matter to his wife
40 Tales of King Vikrama
and she too agreed to the marriage. The merchant
then sent for the family priest that he might
choose an auspicious day. When it arrived, the
merchant gave, to be the bride of this worthless
gambler, his only daughter and with her he gave
a large sum of money as her dowry. For some
days they lived together as man and wife in
Hemgupta's house. Then the gambler said to his
wife, "It is a long time since I left my house. I
feel homesick; for I want to know how they all
are at home. Get your parents, I beg you, to let
me go. If you like you can come with me."
The young wife went to her mother, "Mother,"
she said, "my husband wants to go home. Please
tell this to my father and get him to let us go."
The mother went to Hemgupta and induced him
not only to agree to his daughter's going, but to
give her a large sum of money for the journey
and a slave girl to look after her. As they went,
they came to a thick wood. The gambler said,
"My wife, I am afraid of robbers. Give me your
jewels. I shall hide them in my belt and give
them back to you at the first village we come to."
The young wife handed over her jewels. Directly
the gambler had got them, he threw himself upon
the slavt girl and killing her with a single blow,
flung her body into a well. Then he pushed his
wife in after her, hoping to kill her too. Having
done this, he made his way, as quickly as he could,
to his own country.
By the mercy of Heaven his wife was not
hurt by her fall. Struggling to the side, she
The Maina and the Parrot 41
managed to scramble out of the water and sit up-
on a ledge of rock. Then she began to scream
for help at the top of her voice. A traveller who
was passing through the wood heard her cries
and going to the well looked into it and saw the
young wife sitting weeping. He pulled her out
and asked her who she was, and how she had fallen
in. The young wife thought that if she told the
truth, she would disgrace her husband. She there-
fore said, I am the daughter of the merchant
Hemgupta of Chandrapur. My father married me
to the son of the Merchant Mahadhan of Ilapur.
My husband was taking me to my house, when
robbers suddenly attacked us. They killed my
slave girl and stripping me of my ornaments threw
me into the well. What happened afterwards to
my husband, I do not know."
The traveller took the young wife to her father's
house and giving her into his care resumed his
journey. She told her parents the same story
that she had told the traveller. They tried to
comfort her saying, "Do not lose heart, the robbers
will let your husband go. Robbers do not kill
people. They only rob them of their money." Her
father then gave her new ornaments and promised
her that she would shortly hear news of her hus-
band. In the mean time, the latter had gone to
his own town and was squandering, as before, his
wife's money in riot and debauch. In no long-
time, he was again a beggar. Then he thought
that he would go to his father-in-law and announce
to him the birth of a grandson. His father-in-law
42 Tales of King Vikrama
would be so pleased with the news that he would
give him money and clothes for himself and jewelry
for the child. In execution of this plan, he set forth
and some days later came to his father-in-law's
garden gate. His wife saw him and ran out saying,
"My lord, fear nothing, I told my father that thieves
attacked us, killed my slave girl and taking my
jewels threw me into the well. You tell them the
same story and it will be all right; the house is
yours, and I am your servant." With these words
she turned and went back into the house. Her
husband went into the verandah. His father-in-
law saw him and with a cry of joy ran to meet
him and made him tell his story. The husband
told the tale that his wife had taught him. And
all the household rejoiced at his escape from the
robbers. An hour or so later, the merchant's wife
brought water for her son-in-law's bath, gave him
a dish of five ambrosial ingredients* to eat and
bade him be of good cheer. "Our house is yours,"
said the kindly old lady, "stay here as long as
you like." But one night, the evening of a festival,
the merchant's daughter went to bed with all her
ornaments on. Her wicked husband waited until
she was fast asleep. Then he cut her throat with
a knife and taking her jewels fled back to his
When the maina had finished her tale, she said,
"O king, this is not merely a story that I have
heard. I actually saw everything happen, just as
* Panchamrita, or the five ambrosial ingredients, consists
of: ghee, sugar, milk, honey, curds.
The Maina and the Parrot 43
I told it to you. That is why I want to have
nothing to do with men. For who welcomes a
serpent into his house? Ask, O king, that parrot
what harm that young wife ever did to the
The king turned to the parrot and said, "Well
parrot, what have you to say to that?" im O king,"
replied the parrot, "men are not treacherous at
all; it is women who are treacherous. And to
prove this I shall tell you the following story:
The Parrot's Tale
Once upon a time there was a town called
Kachanpur. In it there lived a merchant called
Sagardatta. He had a son called Shridatta who
was married to Jayashri, the daughter of a Jaipur
merchant named Sombhadra. Some time after
Shridatta's marriage, he went on business to a
distant city. He was absent for twelve years. In
the meantime his wife Jayashri grew to be a
woman. One day she said to her maid servant,
"My youth is passing away in vain, I might as
well never be married". The maid servant tried
to console her, "Have patience, my mistress," she
said, "God will soon send your husband back to
you". But the young wife lost her temper. She
went upstairs and stood by an upper window.
Just then a young and handsome man was coming
down the road. She looked hard at him. As he
came near the house, their eyes met and each fell
instantly in love with the other. The young wife
called her maid and told her to arrange a meeting
44 Tales of King Vikrama
for her with the young man. The maid servant
went into the street and said to him, " Sombhadra's
daughter has lost her heart to you and bids you
meet her at my house to-night". At the same
time she gave the youth her address. The young
man agreed. The maid told this to her mistress
and said, "When he comes to-night I shall come
and tell you and take you to my house". Then
she went home and that night sat up waiting for
the young man. When he came, she seated him
in the verandah and going to Jayashri said,
"Your beloved, my mistress, has come." The two
women waited until past midnight. Then when
all the inmates were asleep, they stole out of the
merchant's house and went with the speed of
lightning to that of the maid. Just before dawn
the young wife went back to her own house and
slipping into bed went fast asleep.
Some days afterwards her husband came back
from his travels and went to his father-in-law's
house to take his wife to his own home. When
Jayashri heard that he had come, she grew very
sad and said to the maid, "What shall I do?
Where shall I hide? If you can think of any
means of escape, tell me. I can think of none/'
"Alas," said the maid, "I can think of none either."
All that day Jayashri was as sad as possible.
That night her mother-in-law told her son-in-law
to sleep in the guest's room. At the same time
she told her daughter to sleep there too with her
husband. Jayashri got very cross and turned up
her nose and frowned. But her mother scolded
The Maina and the Parrot 45
her. So seeing no escape, she went to the guest's
room. There she went to bed with her face to the
wall. The nicer her husband was to her the more
angry she became. He shewed her various
wonderful things, that he had brought back for
her from his travels. "Take them, my beloved,"
he said, "I brought them all for you. They are
yours; but grant me in exchange just one little
word and one little smile." Jayashri at this grew
more angry than ever and scowling at her husband
flung all his presents across the room. Shridatta
in despair turned over and went to sleep. But
Jayashri could not sleep a wink for thinking of
the young man whom she had seen in the road
from her upper window.
When Shridatta had gone fast asleep, Jayashri
got up and running boldly through the dark
streets reached her maid's house. It so happened
that a robber saw her and wondered where so
well-dressed a woman could be going so late at
night. He decided to follow her. It so happened
that the young man had also gone to the maid's
house in the hope of meeting Jayashri. But a
snake had bitten him as he entered and he had
fallen on the ground and died. Now a hobgoblin*
who dwelt in a pipal tree close by, saw that the
youth was dead. He promptly entered his body
and putting his arms round Jayashri's neck bit
her nose off and fled back to the pipal tree. The
robber who had followed Jayashri saw all this
* A pisacha. The pipal or ficus religiosa is a favourite
dwelling place of pisachas and other ghost-like creatures.
46 Tales of King Vikrama
happen. But the unhappy Jayashri, wake with
pain and loss of blood, went back to her own
house and told her maid all that had passed and
asked her what she should do. "It is not yet
light," answered the servant girl, "slip back into
bed and then begin screaming at the top of your
voice. When the household come to see what is
the matter, tell them that your husband has just
cut your nose off. I can think of no other way."
Jayashri, just as her maid had told her to do,
slipped back into bed and began to call out as
loudly as she could. The whole household rushed
upstairs and saw that she had lost her nose. She
turned on her husband, "You cruel wretch," she
said, "why have you treated me like this you wicked,
heartless man!" Shridatta could make no reply.
"One should never put one's trust," he murmured,
"in a changeable man, in riches, in the edge of a
blade or in the word of an enemy; above all, one
should never trust a woman. For women do
things that even poets cannot imagine. Even the
gods themselves cannot say when a horse will
shy, when a cloud will thunder, what destiny awaits
a man or how a woman will act. How, then, can
a man know what the gods do not?"
Sombhadra went at once and complained to
the chief of Police. The latter sent some constables
who brought Shridatta in chains before the king.
The king asked Shridatta what he had to say.
Shridatta replied, "O king, I know nothing what-
ever about the matter". The king sent for Jaya-
shri, who said, "Why ask me, O king, when you
The Maina and the Parrot 47
can see for yourself?" The king looked at her
noseless face; then he turned to Shridatta and
said, "You wicked man, how can I punish you
enough for such a crime!" Shridatta answered,
"O king, I am ready to accept whatever punish-
ment you think just." The king straightway
ordered him to be impaled. The police led him
away and behind him the crowd followed. Among
the crowd was the thief. He said to himself: "I
must save this man, for he is about to be killed
unjustly". He cried out, "Stop! Stop!" The king
sent for him and asked him who he was and
why he interfered. "O king," said the thief,
"pardon me! for I am a thief, nevertheless, give
heed to my prayer. The man whom you are
sending to his death has committed no fault.
If he is impaled, you will have acted unjustly."
"If you know the truth," said the king, "say it."
The thief told the king everything. The latter
sent soldiers, who brought the dead body of the
young man from the maid servant's house. In
the king's presence they opened his mouth and
from it fell the end of Jayashri's nose. Then all
realised that she had falsely charged her husband.
Then the thief said, "O king, it is the duty of the
king not only to protect the innocent, but to punish
the guilty". Straightway the king ordered Jaya-
shri's head to be shaved and her face to be painted
black. This done, she was mounted on an ass
with her face to its tail and turned out of the
city. Thereafter the king gave a robe of honour
to her husband and rewarded the thief.
48 Tales of King Vikrama
When the parrot had finished his story, he said,
"O king, ask the maina what wrong that man had
done to his wife."
At this point the oilman's son asked King
Vikramajit "King Vikrama, tell me who are the
worse, men or women?" The king answered,
"Women are the worse. No matter how bad a
man is, he yet respects public opinion and he fears
to commit sin. But falsehood, daring, folly, greed,
faithlessness and cruelty are women's natural
qualities." When the king had finished speaking,
he saw that he was alone. He realised that he
had again broken his promise. He returned to
the burning ground and saw as before the oilman's
son hanging from a branch. He took it down
and flinging it over his shoulder began to retrace
his steps. As he went, the oilman's son began to
tell his fifth tale.
THE FIFTH TALE
MAHADEVI AND THE GIANT
ONCE in the town of Ujjain there ruled a king
called Mahabal. He had a messenger named
Haridas and the messenger had a beautiful
daughter whose name was Mahadevi. When
she reached womanhood he began to think how he
should find her a husband and so through her
happiness win happiness himself. One day as he
was thinking about her marriage, she herself went
up to him and said, "My father, give me as a
husband some youth endowed with all the virtues."
"I shall try to, my daughter," answered Haridas.
One day the king sent for Haridas and said to
him, "In the Deccan I have a friend, King Hari-
schandra. I want you to go to him and convey
to him my salutations, and find out whether all
is well with him. " Haridas did as the king bade
him and gave to King Harischandra the message.
King Harischandra was so pleased with him that
he insisted on Haridas stopping with him for
One day King Harischandra said to Haridas,
"O Haridas, has the Kaliyuga* begun yet?" Haridas
folded his hands and said, "Certainly, O king,
* According to Hindu belief there have been four ages.
The Satyayuga, the Tretayuga, the Dwaparayuga, and the
Kaliyuga. The Kaliyuga began after the battle of Kurukshetra
between the Pandavas and :Duryodhan. It is the evil age
and will endure for 432,000 years. At its close the world will
50 Tales of King Vikrama
we are now in the Kaliyuga. Wickedness is in full
swing. Truth has lost all its value. Men speak
soft words when they meditate treachery. No one
observes any religion. Sons disobey their fathers,
wives their husbands, princes their gods, subjects
their rulers. Disrespect has taken the place of
learning. Vice knows no bounds. Men live only
for the present and steep themselves in wickedness
and folly. They plot night and day to rob other
men of their wives and their riches. Though a
man be of high caste, yet if he is poor, he is without
honour. The wise man to-day is the man who
cheats his neighbour and grinds the faces of the
poor. Only the wealthy are deemed holy. The
man who gets money by crime is esteemed a saint.
To have no money is to commit sin. The fool is he
who refuses to cheat his friend. The brave king
is he who drives another king from his kingdom.
The traitor is the true statesman. The skilful
prince is he who strips his subjects of their very
clothes. The generous man is he who distributes
bribes. If a man spares another's life after robbing
him of everything he possesses, he is accounted
noble. Kings spend their days in riotous living
and hand over all the business of their kingdom
to their ministers. They never consider the
sufferings of their subjects and only shew favour
to flatterers. They act just as their whims prompt
them. Whatever words the king utters for sooth
are sacred. Whatever his conduct is, it is righteous.
In short, the real duty of the king, which is to
protect his subjects, never enters the king's mind
Mahadevi and the Giant 51
even in his dreams. The gods too, because men
have ceased to worship them, have ceased to act
like gods. Men have weak and delicate children
because they begin in boyhood to lead vicious
lives. Men through their wickedness have lost
their ancient vigour. The anchorites whom we
see are but cut-throats disguised. Clever men
anxious to get notoriety have started new ways
and false ideas. They win the young and foolish
to their side. Thus all kinds of evil practices
flourish. Yes, without doubt this is the Kaliyuga!"
King Harischandra was much impressed by this
speech and complimented Haridas upon it. Then
he went back to his palace. Shortly afterwards a
Brahman youth went up to Haridas and said, "I
have come, O best of men, to ask you to bestow
upon me your accomplished daughter". "Young
man," said Haridas, "I shall only give my daughter
to that youth, who unites in his own person all
the virtues. " The young Brahman replied, " I have
mastered all the sciences." "If so," said Haridas,
"give me some proof of it." The Brahman youth
answered, "I have made a chariot that needs no
horse to pull it. It will take you of itself to
any spot you wish". "Show it to me to-morrow
morning," said Haridas.
The following morning the Brahman youth
brought the chariot. He and Haridas entered it
and in a very short time it brought them to Ujjain.
On reaching his home Haridas learnt that his eldest
son had promised in his absence to give his sister
to another Brahman boy, who also possessed all
52 Tales of King Vikrama
the virtues and that his wife had promised Maha-
devi to yet a third Brahman boy of no less merits.
Haridas was deeply perplexed, for he could not
decide to whom to give his daughter. He turned
the matter over and over again, but he could not
make up his mind. Some days later a giant* entered
the house by night and seizing the girl carried her
off to his home among the Vindhya mountains. For
it has been said that excess in all things is an evil.
It was because of her excessive beauty that Sita
was carried off by Ravan. It was because of his
excessive pride that Ravan and all his family
perished. It was because of excessive generosity
that Bali lost all his wealth.
Next morning the household missed Mahadevi
and searched everywhere for her in vain. At last
Haridas asked the three suitors to look for her.
One of them by his magic discovered that the giant
had carried her off to the Vindhyas. The second
suitor said, "I shall kill that giant and bring her
back". The third said, "Get into my chariot. It
will take you there and after you have killed the
giant it will bring you back". The second suitor
entered the chariot. It took him to the Vindhyas.
There he fought the giant and killed him and
* The original word is Rakshas. I think it is best rendered
by either ' giant ' or 'ogre'. The meaning in the next sen-
tence is a little obscure, but I understand it to be that the
father should not have worried so much and taken so long
to make up his mind. Had he decided earlier, the girl could
have been married and would have gone to her husband's
home before the Rakshas came.
Mahadevi and the Giant 53
afterwards brought back Haridas's daughter. Then
all the three suitors began once more to quarrel,
each claiming that he had done the most towards
winning her. Again Haridas was perplexed, for
he could not make up his mind to which of the
three he ought to give Mahadevi.
At this point the oilman's son said, "O king,
to which of the three should Haridas have given
her?" King Vikrama said, "To the one who
fought and killed the giant." "Why?" asked the
oilman's son. "Because," said the king, "the other
two only helped him. Whereas he went and at
the risk of his life fought the giant. So Haridas
should have given the maid to him."
When the king had finished speaking, he saw
that he was alone. He remembered that he had
again broken his promise, and knew that the dead
body had gone back to the tree. He went back
to the burning ground, placed it on his shoulder
and once more started on his journey. As he
went, the oilman's son began to tell his sixth tale.
THE SIXTH TALE
PARVATI AND THE WASHERMAN'S
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Dharmapur. Over it ruled a king named Dha-
rmashil, whose minister was called Andhak.
One day the minister said, "O king, I pray
you build a temple to Parvati and worship her
image daily. In this way you will come by all your
desires. So it is written in the sacred books." The
king approved the minister's words and built a big
temple and in it placed an image to Parvati, and
every day he used to worship it exactly as holy
books ordained. Indeed, he never would eat or
drink until he had prayed at her shrine. One
day the minister said to him, "It is said in the
scriptures that equally empty are the home of a
childless man, the heart of a fool and the house of
a beggar." When the king heard this, he said to
himself: "I have great possessions, yet because
I have no son, my home is empty. I must devise
some means by which I may get a son." With
this in his mind, he went to the temple and began
to pray to the goddess with folded hands and
sing her praises. "You whom Brahmadev, Vishnu,
Eudra and Indra adore day and night; you who
slew Mahishasura, Chanda*, Munda, Kaktabij and
* Chanda, Munda and Raktabij were companions of two
even greater demons Shumbh and Nishumbh. Shumbh and
Nishumbh had obtained from Brahmadev the boon that they
Parvati and the Washerman's Bride 55
other demons and so freed the earth from their
oppression; you, who when evil overtakes your
worshippers, spring to save them and drive away
their sorrows; attracted by the fame of your
glory, I have come here in the hope that you will
grant me the prayer of my heart! Suddenly as
the king prayed, a voice rang through the temple,
"O king, I am pleased with your devotion and I
am ready to grant you any boon that you ask of
me". The king prostrated himself on the earth
and said, ".Vouchsafe to me, O goddess, a son".
"You will have a son," said the goddess, "a son
both strong and fortunate." "So be it," murmured
the king gladly. Thereafter he held a great festi-
val in honour of the goddess and worshipped her
according to the sixteen different kinds of worship,
and daily offered to her image prayers that she
might fulfil her promise. A year later, through
the goddess's favour, a beautiful baby boy was born
to his queen. The king was overjoyed and pro-
claimed far and wide that the goddess of the tem-
ple that he had founded, never failed to do what
her worshippers asked of her. Now it so happened
that a washerman's son from another town came
to Dharmapur with a friend. As he was passing
Parvati' s temple, a beautiful girl, of the same caste
should never be destroyed by any mortal. They drove
Indra and the lesser gods from their thrones. But Parvati
created a beautiful female figure and sent her to their city.
The demons fell in love with her and fighting to obtain her
killed each other.
Mahishasura was a demon with a buffalo's head whom
56 Tales of King Vikrama
as himself, came towards him. When his eyes fell
on her, he was so struck with her beauty that his
wits left him. For a long time he stood unable to
move. At last, he remembered the fame of the
Dharmapur Parvati. He went into her temple
and prostrating himself before her image, he cried,
"O goddess, I have no hope but in thee! Have
mercy and grant that I may win that beautiful
maid. I vow that if thou hearest my prayer, I
shall offer my head as a sacrifice at thy feet." He
rose and prostrated himself, touching the ground
with all eight members. Then he left the temple
and returned with his friend to his own city. Even
so he could not forget the image of the fair maiden.
He could neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep and from
day to day he wasted away. One day his friend
seeing his unhappy state, related all that had
happened to the washerman. The washerman
thought to himself "If I cannot get the girl as my
son's bride, he will die. I must at once take steps
to bring about their marriage."
Next day the washerman taking with him his
son's friend went to Dharmapur. When he had
found out where the girl's father lived, he went to
him and said, "I have come to beg a favour of
you". "Tell me what it is and, if I can, I shall grant
it to you," said the girl's father. "I have come,"
answered the washerman, "to ask for your daughter
as a bride of my son." The girl's father readily
agreed. He sent for a Brahman who selected an
auspicious day for the marriage. Then he said to
the washerman, "Now go and bring your son as
Parvati and the Washerman's Bride 57
soon as you can. While you are away, I shall
make all preparations for the wedding." The
washerman went back joyfully to his own house,
fetched his son, wife and near relatives and then
returned with great pomp and circumstance to
Dharmapur. There the marriage was celebrated
and afterwards the bride went with her husband
to the washerman's house. One day on the occa-
sion of some family event, the husband and the wife
and the husband's friend went to pay the bride's
father a visit. When they reached Dharmapur,
they passed by Parvati's temple. Suddenly the
husband remembered the vow that he had made.
He began to reproach himself for his wickedness
in not having kept it. He turned to his wife and
friend and said, "Wait here a moment while I say
a prayer to Parvati." He went inside the temple
bathed in the temple pool and prostrated himself,
face downwards, before the image. Then he rose
and drawing his sword cut his head off and flung
it down at the feet of the goddess. His friend
waited for him for some time and then went inside
to see what he was doing. When he saw him ly-
ing headless on the ground, he thought to himself?
"People will say I killed him that I might marry
his wife. I can only clear myself by offering my
head to the goddess." Instantly, he cut his head
off and threw it down before Parvati, just as his
friend had done. The wife shortly afterwards got
tired of waiting outside, so she also went into the
temple. When she saw the two men lying dead,
she said, "I shall never dare to shew my face to
58 Tales of King Vikrama
any one. People will say that I killed my husband
and that to hide my crime I killed his friend."
With these words she threw herself at full length
before the goddess ; prayed a few words and then
taking up her husband's sword was about to cut
her head off. Suddenly the goddess appeared
and seized her hand and said, "My daughter, I am
pleased with you; ask me any boon you like".
The young wife replied, "My mother! the boon
that I ask of you is this: bring back to life my
husband and his friend". "Put their heads on their
bodies," said Parvati, "and they will at once come
to life." The young wife was so delighted that by
mistake she put her husband's head on his friend's
body and his friend's head on her husband's body.
Both came to life; but at once they began to quarrel
with each other, each claiming the wife as his.
At this point the oilman's son said, "O king,
tell me to whom the wife belonged." King Vikrama
answered, "It is written in the scriptures that the
Ganges is chief among rivers, that Meru is chief
among mountains, that the Wishing tree is chief
among trees, and that the head is chief among the
members. Therefore, the one to whom the wife
gave her husband's head was her husband." When
the king had finished speaking, he saw that he
was alone. He understood that he had again
broken his promise. Retracing his steps he went
back to the burning ground and taking the dead
body on his back, he set out again on his journey.
As he went, the oilman's son began to tell his
THE SEVENTH TALE
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Champapur. Its king was called Champesh war
and the queen's name was Sulochana. They
had a daughter called Tribhuvansundari. Her
beauty was such that no words could describe it.
Her face was like the full moon.* Her hair was like
a dark cloud round it. Her eyes would have put a
fawn's to shame. Her eye-brows were like bended
bows. Her nose was like a parrot's beak. Her
neck was like a pigeon's. Her lips were as soft
and as pale as the seeds of a pomegranate. The
colour of her skin was yellow gold like the blossom
of the champak. And she was endowed with
every grace both of mind and body.
When she reached the spring of womanhood,
her father began to debate on whom he should
* This description of female beauty is not as absurd as it
at first sight appears. The writer compares her face not
with the shape, but with the beauty and brightness of the
full Eastern moon. Byron does the same, e. g.
" She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,"
Tribhuvansundari's nose was not hooked. But the tip of
her nose had a perfect symmetry and was perfectly rounded
like a parrot's beak. Her neck was like a pigeon's because
she was "deep bosomed" a quality admired by both East
and West, e.g.
"The tall deep bosomed women
The children nine and ten."
60 Tales of King Vikrama
bestow his lovely daughter. He sent heralds to
the kings of the neighbouring countries. They
announced that King Champeshwar sought a
husband for his daughter, now reached womanhood,
and that her beauty was such that it would charm
away the wits alike of sages and magicians. When
the kings heard the message of the heralds, they
had at once their likenesses painted and sent them
by the hands of Brahmans to King Champeshwar.
The latter shewed the portraits, one after the other,
to his daughter, but she did not like any one of
them. Her father said, "What sort of husband do
you want?" "Give me a husband," she said, "in
whom are combined beauty, strength and wisdom."
The king searched everywhere to find such a
husband. Some days afterwards four kings came
from their own country, each in the hope of winning
Tribhuwansundari. After the king had welcomed
them, he said, "Let each of you display to me your
wisdom and your merits".
One of them at once answered, "O king, listen
and you shall hear how wise I am. Each day I
weave a garment which I sell for five precious
stones. Of these I give one as an offering to the
Brahmans. The second I offer to the gods. The
third I wear myself. The fourth I put aside for
my wife. The fifth I sell, and with the money I
prepare myself a splendid banquet. No one else
has such skill as I have. As for my beauty, you
can see it for yourself. There is no need for me
to talk about it."
The second king then said, "I know the tongues
Princess Tribhuvansundari 61
of all birds, beasts and fishes, whether in the sky
or on the earth or in the sea. Moreover no man
is as strong as I am. As for my looks, you can
judge for yourself."
The third king said, "I know the sacred books
better than any one living, and whether I am hand-
some or not, it is for you to say."
The fourth king said, "I am the most skilful
man-at-arms in all India. I can shoot and kill my
foe merely on hearing his voice, even though I do
not see him. My beauty is renowned all over the
earth. You can see for yourself whether it de-
serves its fame." When the king had heard the
the speech of each of the four suitors, he was
again perplexed. "All four, he said," have equal
merits. To whom shall I give my daughter?"
Then he went to his daughter's room and told her
the claims of each of the four kings and begged
her to choose one among them. Tribhuwansundari
blushed and drawing her sari across her face, she
looked down upon the ground. But she said
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, which of the four kings should she have
chosen?" King Vikrama answered, "He who
wove garments was a Sudra by caste. He who
knew the tongues of birds, beasts and fishes was
a Vaishya by caste. He who knew the sacred
books was a Brahman.* But he who was the
* The Brahman is the priestly caste. The Kshatriya is
the warrior or ruling caste. The Vaishya is or was the
agricultural caste. The Sudra is the lowest caste.
Tales of King Vikrama
skilled man at arms was a Kshatriya. He was
of the same caste as the princess and, therefore, he
alone was fitted to be her husband. When the
king had finished speaking, he saw that he was
alone. He realised that he had again broken his
promise. Going back to the tree, he flung the
dead body across his shoulders. Then once more
he retraced his steps. As he did so, the oilman's
son began to tell eighth tale.
THE EIGHTH TALE
KING GUNADIP AND VIRAMDEVA
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Mithilavati. Its king was called Gunadip.
One day a Rajput called Viramdeva went to
the king to obtain a post in his service. He
every day sought an interview, but he never was
admitted. At last he had exhausted all the money
that he had brought with him from home. And he
had the greatest difficulty in getting enough food
to keep himself alive. One day the king mounted
his horse and went out hunting. Viramdeva
joined unnoticed the crowd of attendants. As luck
would have it, the king got separated from his
huntsmen and Viramdeva was the only one who
remained near him. He called to the king, "O
Maharaja! all your horsemen have left you. lam
the only one with you." The king looked back
and seeing that the Rajput was right, pulled up
his horse. Viramdeva rode up to him. The king
looking at him said, "Why are you so thin?" "O
Maharaja," said Viramdeva, "the master whom I
serve has a thousand servants to feed and clothe.
If he does not look after me, it is because of sins
committed by me in a former life; my master is
in no way to blame. When day dawns all men
begin to see, but the owl grows blind. Is that the
sun's fault? I know that the God who cared for
me in my mother's womb is neither dead nor
asleep. He still lives and is awake. If a man
64 Tales of King Vikrama
begs money from another, it does not follow that
he will get it. Even if a rich man should have
pity on his evil plight, he will make a wry mouth
before he gives alms. He will frown; he will taunt
me with cruel words. For my part, I would sooner
die than dishonour myself by taking such a gift.
Again to make friends of fools, to laugh without
reason, to quarrel with one's wife, to serve a poor
master, to frequent low company, to use foul words,
all these disgrace a man. On the other hand, a
man's future, a man's former life, the wisdom, the
riches and the fame to which he may attain are
all written on his forehead. So long as a man's
good fortune is in the ascendant, the whole world
is his slave. But when ill fortune overtakes a
man, his own brother turns on him. One thing
alone is certain. To serve a good master faithfuHy
is never without its reward."
The king listened attentively to what the Rajput
said, but he did not answer him. "I am very hun-
gry," he said suddenly, "get me something to eat."
Viramdeva replied, "My lord king, I cannot get
you bread here. But I shall see if I can get you
anything else." With these words he went into
the forest and after hunting for some time killed
a stag. Taking a flint from his pocket, he lit a
fire. Over it he roasted the venison. Some of
it he gave to the king and some he ate himself.
After their meal, the king said, "Take me home, I
do not know in what direction my city lies". The
Rajput mounted his horse and leading the way
took the king safely back to his palace. There
King Gunadip and Viramdeva 65
the king gave him jewelry and clothes and a post
in the royal service. Thereafter he was always in
attendance on the king. One day, the king sent
Viramdeva on some duty which took him to the
sea-coast. There he saw a temple to Parvati. He
went inside, worshipped at the shrine and came
out again. As he was walking away, a fair woman
came up and said, "Tell me, good sir, why you
have come here." The Rajput was so struck with
her beauty that he could only mutter that he had
gone there to pass the time. The fair woman
said, "If you care for me, bathe in the temple
pool. After you have bathed, I shall gladly listen
to anything you wish to say to me." Viramdeva
went back again inside the temple. He bathed
in the pool and came out again. On looking
round he saw to his astonishment that he was
back again in the capital. He went home, changed
his clothes and obtained an interview with the
king. To him he told all that had passed in the
temple by the seashore. "You must take me
there," cried the king, "and shew me this marvel."
Both mounted their horses and started. After
some days' journey they reached the sea-coast.
They entered the temple and worshipped Parvati.
When the king came out, he saw the same fair
woman, but this time a maid servant accompanied
her. The fair woman went up to the king and
struck by his handsome face said, "My lord the
king, I am ready to do anything you wish me to."
"If that is so," answered the king, "be the bride of
my attendant." "My lord the king," said the fair
66 Tales of King Vikrama
woman, "I have fallen in love with you, how then
can I marry your attendant?" "But," retorted the
king, "you said just now to me that you were
ready to do anything I wished. True women keep
their promises. Keep, therefore, yours and wed
this Rajput." "As you will," said the fair woman
with a sigh, "I bow to my lord's command."
Straightway, the king married her to Viramdeva
by the rites of the Gandharva marriage. Then
he took them both home with him to his capital.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, whose was the greater merit, the king's
or his attendant's?" "His attendant's," answered
King Vikrama. "Surely," said the oilman's son,
"the king's was; for he resigned the beautiful
woman to his servant." "No," said the King
Vikrama. "To be grateful is the duty of a king.
Therefore, in shewing his gratitude, the king did
no more than his duty. But when Viramdeva
saved the king's life out hunting, he was not his
attendant, and therefore, did more than his duty.
His, therefore, was the greater merit." At this
point the king saw that he was alone. He realised
that he had again broken his promise. He there-
fore returned to the burning ground and throwing
the dead body over his shoulder began to retrace
his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began
to tell his ninth tale.
THE NINTH TALE
SOMADATTA AND MADANSENA
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Mandanpur. Over it ruled a king named
Virvar. In it also lived a Vaishya named
Hiranyadatta who had a daughter called
Madansena. One spring day she went with her
maid servants to play in her garden. By a strange
chance it so happened that just then one Somadatta
the son of a merchant named Dharmadatta was
walking with a friend. In the course of his walk
he came to the garden. Directly he saw Madansena,
he fell head over ears in love with her. He turned
to his friend and said, "If I can marry that lovely
maiden, my love will have won its crown. But if '
I cannot, my life is worthless." Then unable to
control himself, he ran into the garden and taking
Madansena by the hand he cried, "If you will not
bestow your love on me, I shall take my life."
44 That would be a dreadful sin," cried Madansena,
"do not do it." "Yes, what you say is true," answered
the youth. "But my whole body is on fire for
love of you. Such are my torments that the words
sin and merit have no longer any meaning. I
shall surely kill myself if you do not hold out
some hope that you will love me in return."
Madansena distracted by pity for the youth
and by the fear that he would kill himself said,
"I am to be married five days from now. But I
promise to go and see you and bid you goodbye
68 Tales of King Vikrama
before I go to my husband's house". Then turning
away she ran back to her house as fast as she
could. Somadatta too turned back and went
Five days afterwards Madansena was married.
She found no opportunity of slipping away to
say goodbye to Somadatta. Much against her
wish she went to her husband's house. That
night she told her husband of the promise she
had made to Somadatta. "If you wish to bid him
goodbye," said her husband, "go and do so now."
Madansena left the house and took the road
leading to Somadatta's house. As she went a
robber saw her and pleased at the prospect of a
rich booty went up to her and said, " Where are
you going so late at night, so richly dressed and
jewelled?" Madansena answered, "I am going
to see a friend". "Is no one going with you?"
said the robber. Madansena told him of the
promise that she had made to Somadatta. "I
know," she said, " that you are a robber, but this
time please let me go. I promise you that when
I return I shall giye all my jewelry to you."
The robber thought for a moment; then he
said to himself: "She must come back by the same
road and then she will give me her jewels. For
as she is only going to bid a friend goodbye, she
cannot stay there, and this is the only path by
which she can return." The thief, therefore, stayed
where he was and waited for her to come back.
Madansena went on until she reached Somadatta's
house. She roused him. He woke with a start.
Somadatta and Madansena 69
"Fair girl," he said in his bewilderment: "Are you
the daughter of a god or of a magician or are you
a serpent maiden from Patala?* Why have you
come?" "Nay," said Madansena with a smile, "I
am but a human maid, my father is Hiranyadatta,
my name is Madansena ; but you have forgotten
me. Not so long ago you took my hand and made
me swear that I would come and bid you goodbye.
If you still care for me, I am ready to stay with
you always." "But," said Somadatta, "did you
tell your husband that you were coming?" "Yes,"
said Madansena, "I told him everything." A great
wave of pity then came over Somadatta for the
brave girl who had gone through so much to keep
her promise to him. "No, dear maid," he said,
"you belong to your husband; you must not stay
with me." Madansena turned away and slipping
from the house went back the way she had come.
As she went she met the robber and told him
everything. The robber was so struck with the
tale that he would take nothing from her. She
continued her journey until she reached her home.
There she told her husband all that had befallen
her. The husband took her back and forgave her
everything. For as he said, "Chastity is the glory
of the wife. Its song is the glory of the nightingale.
And forgiveness is the glory of the righteous man".
* Nag Kanya. These are the maidens of the race of the
Nagas who are said to have sprung from Kadru wife of
Kasyapa. Patala is the lowest of the seven underground
regions. The others are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Mahatala,
Rasatala and Talatala.
Tales of King Vikrama
When the oilman's son had reached this point,
he said to King Vikrama, "O king, who do you
think had the greater merit of those three persons?"
"The robber," answered the king. "But why?"
asked the oilman's son. "Because the husband
knew that he would not gain his wife's love by
scolding her. So he let her go. Somadatta sent
her away because he feared for his own reputation
and the punishment which the king might inflict
on him if she stayed with him. The robber had
no such motive. He would not rob her because
he honoured her courage and innocence. The
robber's, therefore, was the greatest merit."
At this point the king saw that he was alone.
He remembered that he had again broken his
promise. He went back to the burning ground
and found the dead body- hanging as before to
the tree. He took it down and flinging it across
his back began once more to retrace his steps.
As he did so, the oilman's son began to tell his
THE TENTH TALE
ONCE upon a time there was a city in Bengal
called Vardhaman. Over it ruled a king
called Gunshekhar. His minister Abhya-
chandra was a Jain, and through his teaching
he converted the king to Jamism. The king forbade
the worship of Vishnu and Shiva and the offering
of gifts to them. He also proclaimed that no one
should throw the charred bones of the dead into
the Ganges river, and he warned his subjects that
he would confiscate the goods of all who disobey-
ed his orders and that he would drive them from
Some time afterwards the minister expounded
to the king the Jain doctrines, "If any one, O king,"
said the minister, "takes another's life, the other,
in a future life, will take his. Not only that, but
as a punishment for his sin he can never escape
from the torments of this world. He will go on
dying and being born again through all eternity.
All men, therefore, should become Jains. For even
Brahmadev, Vishnu and Shiva have either through
love, anger or greed been forced at different times
to take human shapes. The cow is far above the
gods. She never becomes the slave of love, illu-
sion or greed. She supports mankind and her
sons after her confer benefits on men. Thus men
and gods and sages honour her. It is of no use
to worship the gods. One should only worship
72 Tales of King Vikrama
cows; and one should protect men, beasts, birds,
and other living things. This and no other is the
true religion. He who eats the flesh of animals
will in the end go to hell. They who, without
thinking of the pain they cause, kill and eat inno-
cent creatures will never prosper. In their next
life they will be born crippled, lame, squint-eyed,
blind, dumb, hunchbacked or sickly and will live
miserably. Those who eat the flesh of animals
will themselves be eaten by animals." The
minister by talking in this strain so swayed the
king's mind, that he entered a Jain monastery
and passing completely under the influence of the
Jain monks, disregarded utterly Brahmans and
anchorites, mendicants and ascetics.
The king ruled for some years and then died
suddenly. After him his son Dharmadwaja mount-
ed the throne. He disliked the Jain faith. So he
seized the minister who had converted his father.
He ordered his head to be shaved and his face to
be blackened. The king then mounted him on a
starving donkey, and parading him through the
streets, proclaimed that he would thus punish all
who observed the Jain religion. Lastly he ex-
pelled him from the kingdom and restored the
old Hindu faith. One day, in the spring of the
year King Dharmadwaja had taken his wives to
admire the beauty of one of his gardens. In the
garden was a pool and on the pool floated lotus
flowers. The king rejoicing in the beauty of his
garden, took off his robes and bathed in the pool.
He plucked one of the lotus flowers and taking it
King Gunshekhar 73
to the bank offered it to one of his queens. Un-
happily it slipped from his hand and falling on
the queen's foot broke it. The king ordered her
to be treated very carefully until she got well.
That same night the rays of the rising moon fell
upon the second queen and blistered her skin.
Next morning the noise of a neighbour pounding
rice reached the ears of the third queen. It gave
her such a violent headache that she fell into a
At this point the oilman's son said, "Which of
the three queens, King Vikrama, was the most
delicate?" "She who fainted on hearing the noise
of rice pounded," answered the king. When he
had finished speaking, he saw that he was alone.
He remembered that he had again broken his
promise. He went back to the burning ground
and saw the dead body hanging from the tree.
He took it down and flinging it'across his shoulders
began to retrace his steps. As he did so, the oil-
man's son began to tell his eleventh tale.
THE ELEVENTH TALE
KING VALLABHARAM AND THE
THERE was once upon a time a town called
Punyapur. Over it ruled a king called
Vallabharam. His prime minister's name
was Satyaprakash. One day the king said
to his minister, "He who being a king does not
enjoy the society of pretty girls might just as well
not be a king at all." With these words he handed
over the whole business of his kingdom to his
prime minister, and throwing aside all his cares
spent all his days among the fairest faces in India.
One day the prime minister was sitting sadly
in his house. His beautiful wife Laxmi came to
him and said, "My lord, why do you look so care-
worn and weary?" "Because," answered her
husband, "I am anxious about the king. He
passes the whole of his time in pleasure, and I
have become quite ill through his anxiety as to
his future." "If that is so, my lord," said Laxmi,
"you should go on a pilgrimage to some shrine.
For many years you have served the king. It
is time that you enjoyed a holiday." For a
time the minister thought over his wife's counsel.
When he next went to see the king, he begged
and obtained leave to go on a pilgrimage. In the
course of it he came to Setubandh Rameshwaram.*
After he had worshipped at the shrine, he left the
* The extreme southerly point of India.
King Vallabharam and the Sea Maiden 75
temple. He looked out over the ocean. Suddenly
he saw a very strange thing. In the middle of
the sea stood a tree with an ebony trunk. Its
leaves were emeralds. Its flowers were of coral
and its fruits topazes. His wonder grew when he
noticed that sitting on the top of the tree was a
beautiful girl who played on a lute and sang to it a
low, lilting song. The tree remained above the sea
for about a quarter of an hour. Then it slowly dis-
appeared beneath the waves. The minister was so
amazed at what he had seen that that very day he
set out to return to his own city. Prostrating him-
self before the king with clasped hands, he cried,
"My lord king, I have seen a marvellous thing."
"Tell me about it," said the king. "But," said the
minister, "if I tell this story stranger than what
men see in their wildest dreams men will deem
me mad. Yet what I am about to tell you I have
seen with my own eyes." Then he told the king
all about the strange tree and the sea maiden
whom he had seen sitting and singing upon it.
When he had ended his tale the king instantly
handed over his kingdom to his minister and started
alone for the South. After some days he reached
the seashore near Rameshwaram. He went inside
the temple and worshipped at the shrine. When
he came out he looked across the waters and, just
as his minister had done, he saw the jewelled tree
with the beautiful maid upon it standing in the
middle of the ocean. Directly the king saw it, he
sprang into the sea and swimming out to the tree
climbed into its branches. As soon as he had
76 Tales of King Vikrama
done so, the tree sank right down below the sea
to Patala. When it stopped, the beautiful maiden
said to him, "Brave man, what led you to come
here?" "I fell in love with your beauty," answered
the king, "and I have followed you in the hope of
winning you for my bride." "I am ready to be
your bride," said the maiden, "but only on one
condition. You must always promise to leave me
upon the fourteenth day of the dark half of the
month." The king promised and they were at once
married by the Gandharva marriage rites. When
the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month
came, the sea maiden said to the king, "To-day
you must leave me." The king agreed and going
away, hid himself in a spot where he could see
everything without being seen. At midnight he
saw a giant come in and offer to kiss his wife.
Instantly the king rushed at the giant, "Vile
giant," he cried, "do not dare to touch my wife.
First do battle with me. I fear you not. Before
seeing you I might have feared to fight a giant,
but now I fear nothing."
As he spoke the king slashed so fiercely at the
giant's neck that with a single stroke he severed
his enemy's head from his body. When his wife
saw what he had done she cried joyfully: "My
brave husband, you do not know how grateful
I am to you! For just as jewels are not to be found
on every mountain, nor sandalwood trees in every
forest, nor pearls in the head of every elephant,
so heroes are not to be found in every city." "But,"
asked the king, "why did that giant come on the
King Vallabharam and the Sea Maiden 77
fourteenth day of the dark half of the month?"
" Listen," answered the sea maiden, "and I shall
tell you. My name is Sundari. My father is an
immortal.* It was his custom never to eat his
dinner without me beside him. One day I was
not at home at dinner time. My father grew very
angry. He cursed me saying that a giant would
come to persecute me on the fourteenth of the
dark half of every month. When I heard his
curse, I cried to him: 'My father, have pity on me
and take back the curse that you have laid on me'.
He said in answer, 'If the husband whom you
marry is really a brave man, he will kill the giant
and free you from my curse* and, as he foretold,
so it has happened. Now I must go to my father
and make obeisance to him."
The king said, "If you are really grateful to me,
you must repay me by coming with me to see my
city. Thereafter you can go and see your father."
The sea maiden agreed. The king took her to his
capital. When the news spread that the king was
returning, his people beat drums, played music
and rejoiced. Beggars gathered together to receive
alms and give him their blessings. And the king
scattered largesse on all sides. After some days
had passed, Sundari said, "My lord king, I want
to go and see my father." The king grew very
sad and began to sigh deeply. "Very well," he
said, "go if you will." Sundari felt pity for him
and answered: "No, I shall not go." "Why not?"
* A Vidhyadhara in the original (See Tale 15).
78 Tales of King Vikrama
asked the king. "My father," said Sunclari, "is an
immortal. I have become the wife of a mortal,
whom he will despise. So I shall not go." When
the king heard her words he was so delighted
that he distributed lakhs of rupees in charity.
But when the minister came to know of her
resolve, his heart burst within his breast and he
At this point the oilman's son said: "King
Vikrama, tell me what it was that killed the
minister. "The minister feared," answered King
Vikrama, "that the king would spend all his days
in the society of the new queen and would, for
the rest of his life, neglect the affairs of the state.
Ruin would overtake his subjects, deserted by
their king. It was this fear that killed him."
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had
again broken his promise. He went back to the
burning ground and flinging the dead body over
his shoulder began once more to retrace his
steps. As he went, the oilman's son began to
tell his twelfth tale.
THE TWELFTH TALE
PRINCESS LAVANYAVATI AND THE
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Chudapur. In it there lived a king called
Chudamani. He had a guru or spiritual
teacher named Devaswami and a son called
Hariswami. The latter was as beautiful as Kamdev
the god of love; he was as learned in the sacred
books as Brihaspati the teacher of the gods, and
he was as rich as Kuber the god of wealth. The
king married his son to the daughter oia neighbour-
ing king called Krishnaswami. Her name was
Lavanyavati. She was a beautiful girl and both
prince and princess loved each other and were as
happy as possible.
One summer night the prince and princess
went to sleep on the terrace of a house in the
woods. As the princess slept her bedclothes slipped
off to one side, exposing her beautiful face. Now
it so chanced that a Gandharva* was just then
riding through the sky in his air chariot. Looking
down, his gaze fell on the lovely princess and
instantly he fell in love with her. Silently he
brought his chariot down until it rested close to
where the princess slept. Then lifting her up so
skilfully that she never woke, he placed her in
his air chariot and soared into the heavens.
* See ante the note to tale I.
IT SO CHANCED THAT A GANDHARVA WAS REDING THROUGH
THE SKY IN HIS AIR CHARIOT.
Princess Lavanyavati & the Gandharva 81
When prince Harisvvami awoke, he noticed
that his wife was no longer near him. Alarmed
lie went downstairs and began to search the house,
but it was of course hopeless to search for one
whom a Gandharva had borne away. He returned
to his father's city and searched in every lane and
street, At last he began to despair. "Some one/'
he said, "must have taken her away, but where he
took her I cannot guess." Going home he sat
down and began to weep and lament. Then twice
more he searched the whole town through, but all
in vain. When he again returned to his palace it
seemed a desert without his beloved bride, so he
sat down more despairing than ever. "My
Beloved," he mourned, "you who were so good and
sweet, I cannot live without you." So he wailed
for days together. At last his grief became more
than he could bear. He rose and abandoning his
house, rank and wealth, he became a wandering
beggar. He flung aside his princely robes and put
on nothing but a loin cloth. Then smearing his
body with ashes he left the city and bareheaded
and all but naked he roamed from shrine to shrine
and from one town to another. One day he went
faint with hunger with a begging bowl in his hand
to the house of a Brahman and asked for food.
Now a beggar should go to a rich man's house and
not to that of a poor Brahman. But when a man
is distracted with love, he can think neither of his
caste nor his religion, nor does he care what or
when or where he eats or drinks. The Brahman
bade his wife give the beggar some food. So she
82 Tales of King Vikrama
poured some milk into his begging bowl. With it
Hariswami went to a banian tree by the edge of
a lake and putting his bowl on the ground went
fast asleep. It so chanced that a snake crept out
and drank up part of the milk without Hariswami
seeing it. When the prince woke up, he drank
the poisoned milk and died very soon afterAvards.
At this * point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, who was to blame for the prince's death?
Was it the Brahman, the wife or the snake?"
"None of them," answered king Vikrama indig-
nantly. The Brahman did an act of charity. His
wife obeyed her husband's order. The snake was
a poisonous snake and could not help being so.
For that was its nature. Nor was Hariswami
guilty of suicide. For ho did not know that the
snake had touched the milk. "Indeed," continued
King Vikrama growing more and more heated,
"if anyone were to fasten the guilt of the prince's
death on any one of those four persons he himself
would be the guilty one." When King Vikrama
had said this, he sa\v that he was alone. Realising
that he had once more broken his promise, he
went back to the burning ground. The dead body
was as before hanging from the branch. Flinging
it over his shoulder he began to retrace his steps.
As he went the oilman's son began to tell his
THE THIRTEENTH TALE
SHOBHANI AND THE ROBBER
NCE upon a time there was a town called
Chandrakanti. Over it ruled a king called
Nardharnamak; and in it lived a merchant
called Makaradhwaja who had a daughter
named Shobhani. She was a beautiful girl and
from day-to-day her beauty increased. It so
happened that a number of thefts began to occur
all over the city. Many rich people were ruined
by these thefts. At last the whole town .went to
the king's palace to complain of the trouble and loss
that they had suffered. "We will not stay here
any longer," they cried angrily to the king. "Nay,"
said the king soothingly, "what has happened has
happened. It cannot be helped now. But I promise
that you will not be troubled any more." The crowd
was pacified and dispersed. The king then called his
police and instructed them how they should patrol
the city. He also ordered them to kill any thief
they caught at once without waiting for his per-
mission. The police carried out his commands
and did their best to protect the citizens. Still
the thefts continued. Again all the merchants
and traders gathered together outside the palace.
"Lord King," they cried> "you have posted patrols
all over the city. But the thefts instead of stop-
ping are as bad as ever/* The king dismissed the
crowd saying, "Go now, to-night I shall myself
patrol the city."
84 Tales of King Vikraina
When night came the king took his sword and
shield and began to walk about through the town.
Suddenly he saw a robber come towards him.
He called out to the robber, "Who are you?" "I
am a robber," was the answer. "Who are you?"
" I too am a robber," replied the king. The robber
was pleased at the reply and said, "Come along
then; that is all right. We will both go and rob
together." The king agreed, and after walking
and talking with the robber for some little distance,
helped him to break into a house. After they had
robbed it, they robbed several other houses in the
same way. When they had collected considerable
spoil, the robber led the king outside the city to a
well. He and the king descended into the well.
Inside it was a door that led into a cavern. The
robber posted the king at the door, while he him-
self took the booty inside. After the robber had
gone, a slave girl came out and seeing the king
said, "My lord king, what has brought you here
in the company of that villain? Run away from
here as quickly as you can, otherwise he will kill
you directly he comes out," "I do not know the
way/' answered the king, "so I cannot run away."
The slave girl shewed him the way out and the
king returned to the palace.
Next morning the king called out his army and
going to the well blockaded all the roads leading
to it and the cavern. When the robber found that
he could not get out of the cave, he went to the
lord of it who was a giant, "My lord," he said
to the giant, "the king is attacking our cavern,
Shobhani and the Robber 85
you must help me, otherwise I shall have to desert
you, and you will lose all your treasure and good
name." The giant laughed and said, "I am de-
lighted to hear what you tell me. You have
brought me a splendid meal and I am very grate-
ful to you." With these words the giant rushed
out of the cavern and began to eat up the army,
men, horses and elephants, as fast as he could. A
panic seized the troops. Those who could, fled.
The others were all eaten up by the giant.
The king was running away all alone, when
the robber called after him, "What! you a king's
son and afraid! Shame on you!" When the king
heard the robber's taunt, he turned and faced him.
After a fierce fight the king wounded the robber
and overcame him. He tied his hands and feet
together and dragged him back to the city. There
he had the robber's head shaved. He then seated
him on a camel and after parading him about the
streets, ordered him to be impaled. The citizens
were delighted and shouted after the robber, "You
are the man who stole all our property and now
you are going to be impaled!"
When the procession was passing the house of
the merchant Makaradhwaj a, his daughter Shobhani
heard the noise and asked her slave girl what
it was. The slave girl told her that accord-
ing to the king's orders they were taking away
the robber who had committed so many thefts in
the town and were going to impale him. When
Shobhani heard this, she looked out, Seeing how
young and handsome the robber was, she fell in
<SB Tales of King Vikrama
love with him. She ran to her father and said,
"My father, you must go to the king and some-
how or other you must get him to spare that rob-
"My child/' answered the merchant, "how can
I? The man has been robbing the whole town.
Numbers of townsmen have lost their lives.
The king will never listen to me." Shobhani
answered, "If you offer the king all your riches,
he will surely spare the robber. If you do not, I
shall kill myself."
The merchant went to the king, "My lord king,"
he said, "take five lakhs of rupees and let the
robber go." The king got very angry and said,
"This is fine talk. You want me to let go this
ruffian who has ruiued my capital. I shall never-
let him go ! never ! "
The merchant returned to his daughter and
said, "My daughter, I said all I could to the king,
but he would not listen to me." Just then the
police brought the robber to the place where they
were going to impale him. There they told him
how the merchant's daughter had tried to save
him. When he heard the story, he first burst into
tears. Then he began to laugh loudly. A minute
or two later the police impaled him.
When, he was dead, Shobhani made a funeral
pyre. Then going to the gallows she took down
the robber's dead body and took it with her to
the burning ground. As she was, lighting the pyre,
the Goddess Parvati appeared before her and said:
"My daughter, I have seen your courage and I am
Shobhani and the Robber 87
pleased with you. Ask a boon and it will be
granted to you." "Great Goddess," answered the
maid, "the boon that I ask of you is that you
restore this man to life."
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, why did that robber first weep and then
laugh?" "Listen," said King Vikrama, "and I shall
tell you. He wept because he thought that he could
never shew his gratitude to the maid who to save
him had offered all her wealth to the king. Then
he thought how wonderful were the ways of
Providence that a woman should feel love for him
when he was about to die. For Providence does
odd things, bestowing wealth on the unlucky,
wisdom on the lowly, and beautiful wives on the
ugly. And as he thought of all the strange things
that Heaven orders, he could not restrain his
laughter." When King Vikrama had finished, he
saw that he was alone. Then he realised that he
had again broken his promise. He returned to
the burning ground and flinging the dead body
over his shoulder, he began once more to retrace
his steps. As he went, the oilman's son began his
THE FOURTEENTH TALE
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Kusumavati. Over it ruled a king called Su-
vichar. His daughter's name was Chandra-
prabha. One day after she had reached the
spring of womanhood, she set out with her compa-
nions to admire the beauty of a certain garden.
Every precaution had been taken to prevent men
from entering the garden. But it so chanced that
a certain Brahman youth had strolled into it and
lying down in the cool shade of a tree had gone
fast asleep. Neither the guards nor the king's
servants "saw him, so he lay sleeping up to the
time the princess entered the garden.
The princess and her ladies roamed through it
at will until they came to where the Brahman youth
lay asleep. At the sound of their footsteps he
awoke. His eyes met those of the princess. Each
was so smitten with love for the other that the
Brahman fell back in a dead faint while the princess
began to tremble all over. When her ladies noticed
her state they calmed her, until they were able to
lead her to where her palanquin was. Placing her
in it, they had her taken home. Tl\e Brahman
youth remained lying where he was quite uncon-
scious. It so happened that some time afterwards
a Brahman of the name of Muldev passed together
with his son Shashi close to where the youth lay.
"Shashi," he said, "why is this youth lying here?
Princess Chandraprabha 89
"Some dancing- girl," laughingly replied his son,
"has drawn the bow of her eyebrow and has shot
him with the arrow of her glance, so that he has
fainted." " We must lift him up," said Muldev. "No;
let him be," said the other, "why should you care?"
But Muldev did not heed his son. Placing his
hand behind the youth's neck he raised him and
said, "Good sir, what has brought you to this state?"
"I am willing," replied the youth, "to tell my troubles
to one who will help to mend them. But of what
use is it to tell them to one who will merely look
on and do nothing." "Tell me your troubles," said
Muldev, "and I shall do my best to help you."
When the youth had received this assurance, he
told Muldev all about meeting with the princess.
"If I can win her," he cried, "I shall live; but if not
I shall kill myself." "Very well," said Muldev, "in
the meantime come with me. I shall try to win the
maid for you. If I cannot I shall make you a rich
man to console you."
"Providence," said the youth, "has created in this
world many jewels, but a fair woman is the richest
jewel of them all. Men merely desire wealth that
with it they may win fair women. How will it profit
a man to win gold if he miss love? It is better
to be a beast of the field than to love a beautiful
woman and not be loved in return. The fruit of
virtue is wealth, the fruit of wealth is happiness,
and the fruit of happiness is a lovely wife. For
where woman is absent, happiness abides not."
"Very well," said Muldev, "I shall get you what-
ever you wish." "I want the princess," said the
90 Tales of King Vikrama
youth, "and nothing else." "Come then with me,"
said Muldev, "and I shall get you your princess."
Muldev after much persuasion induced the Brah-
man youth to go with him to his house. There
he prepared two little pill-like balls. One of them
he gave to the youth and said, "Directly you put
one of them into your mouth, you will become a
girl, of sixteen. Directly you take it out, you will
become as before, a man again. Now put the ball
in your mouth." The youth did so and instantly
he took the form of a sixteen-year old maiden.
Muldev next put the second ball into his own mouth
and he became an eighty-year old anchorite. He
took the young girl by the hand and with her went
to the royal palace. When the king saw the Brah-
man approach, he saluted him respectfully and
seated him on a seat of honour and offered a simi-
lar seat to the young girl. The Brahman in re-
turn blessed the king in the following rhyme:
"He who beat King Bali down,
He who took fair Lanka town,
He who by His single strength
Held Govarclhan at arm's length,
May* He luck bestow on you
When you war and when you woo!"
* He who destroyed King Bali was Waman or the dwarf,
Vishnu's fifth incarnation. Vishnu took the form of a dwarf,
appeared before Bali and asked for as much land as he could
cover in three strides. Bali consented. Waman with one
stride covered earth, with the second stride covered Heaven
and with the third stamped Bali into hell (see page 79, Istur
Phak.de. v He who took Lanka town was Vishnu's seventh
Princess Chandraprabha 91
The king asked the Brahman, "Reverend sir,
why have you come?'' Muldev answered, "I have
come from beyond the Ganges. For there I live.
One day I had gone to take my daughter-in-law to
another village. In my absence there was a battle
near my town. When I returned, it was deserted
and my wife and son had disappeared. I am now
wandering about with my daughter-in-law in the
hope of finding him. But I do not know how long
my wanderings may be. I have therefore brought
you my daughter-in-law. I want you to keep her
for me until I. return."
When the king heard the old Brahman's words,
he fell into deep thought. 'How can I/ he asked
himself, 'keep by me so young and beautiful a girl?
and yet if I refuse that old Brahman will curse me/
At last he said, "As you will, reverend sir; I am
ready to carry out your wish." Then he sent for
his daughter. "My child," he said to her, "take this
Brahman's daughter-in-law and look after her.
Spare no money in making her comfortable. And
do not forget her for a single moment whether you
are asleep or awake, or rising or sitting or playing."
The princess Chandraprabha took the Brahman
girl by the hand and took her into her own apart-
incarnation, the hero Ramchandra (see Indian Heroes). He
who held Govardhan at arm's length was Krishna, Vishnu's
eighth incarnation. The God Indra was angry because the
cowherds be^an to worship Krishna instead of himself. So
he showered rain upon them in torrents. Krishna held up Go-
vardhan mountain over the cowherds to shelter them. The
meaning of the blessing is simply "May Vishnu favour you!"
92 . Tales of King Vikrama
ments. That night they both went to rest upon
the same couch and began to chatter together like
any other two young girls. During a pause in the
talk, the Brahman girl said, "Princess, what grief
is it that makes you so careworn ? " The princess
replied, "Listen, dear girl, and I shall tell you. One
day I went into a certain garden. There I saw a
Brahman youth as beautiful as the god of love
himself. Our eyes met. He fainted on the spot.
I too all but fainted. And the ladies with me
seeing my state brought me home. I do not know
the youth's country, or name, or village. But his
image is always before my eyes. I want neither
food nor drink. And if I look thin and careworn,
this is the cause."
The Brahman maid answered, "What reward
would you give me if I enabled you to meet your
beloved." "If you did," cried the princess, "I should
be your slave always." The Brahman maid then
took the ball out of her mouth and became once
more a youth. When the princess saw the change
she blushed and hid her face. Afterwards she and
the Brahman youth married each other according
to Gandharva marriage rites and lived happily to-
gether. In the morning the Brahman youth would
put the ball in his mouth and become a girl and
at night he would take it out again and become
once more a youth. In this way six months passed.
One day the king took all his family to the
house of his minister to attend a wedding there.
When the minister's son saw the Brahman maid he
lost his heart completely to her. He said to one of
Princess Chandraprabha 93
his friends, " Unless I can marry that girl I shall kill
myself." After the wedding feast was over, the king
with his family returned to his own house. But the
minister's son grieved so for the Brahman maid,
that he would touch neither food nor drink. His
friend told the cause to the minister. The minister
went to the king and said, "My lord king, my son
has become very ill for love of that Brahman maid.
He will neither eat nor drink. Of your mercy marry
her to him. Otherwise, I shall lose him."
At this the king grew very angry. "Fool! is it
for a king to do such a thing? The girl is
already the wife of another man. How can I
marry her to your son?" The minister vexed at
the answer went home. There seeing how ill his
son was, he too refused food and drink. After
some days, the king's other officers went to the
king and said, "O king, the minister's son is on
the point of death. The minister will not survive
him. If the minister dies, the kingdom will be
ruined; for there is no other with such know-
ledge of statecraft as he has. Hear therefore, our
" Speak," said the king.
The leading officer then said, "My lord king,
it is now many days since that old Brahman left.
Heaven alone knows whether he is still alive.
Marry, therefore, we pray you, the Brahman maid
to the minister's son and save the kingdom.
Should the old Brahman come back, pacify him
with a gift of land or money. If that does not
satisfy him, get another wife for his son." . The
94 Tales of King Vikrama
king agreed and sending for the Brahman's
daughter-in-law told her what had taken place.
"My lord king," she cried, " we women are the
victims of our beauty. Brahmans are the victims
of their ambition to serve kings. Wealth is lost
through wickedness. Cows are led by their desire
to drink water into the forest and there perish.'*
Then after a pause, she said, "O king, if you insist
on marrying me to the minister's son, then I
would ask you one thing. Make him promise to do
what I ask him. If you agree to this, I am ready
to go to his house." "What is it that you want
him to do?" asked the king. "My lord king, I
am a Brahman girl and he is a Kshatriya. Be-
fore I marry him, he must purify himself by going
to all the holy places in India. If he does that,
I am ready to marry him."
The king repeated the condition to the
minister's son, w r ho replied, "O king, I am ready
to go on this pilgrimage, but I want her first to
come and live in my house." The king approved
his request, So the Brahman maid had against
her will to go and live in the house of the
minister's son. The latter before starting on his
journey entrusted the maid to his wife and told
them both to live in harmony and not quarrel
with each other. Then he departed.
Six months later, the minister's son returned
after having visited all the holy places. His
family began to make all preparations for* the
wedding. The Brahman maid, however, took the
ball out of her mouth and became once more a
Princess Chandraprabha 95
man. Then escaping from the window he fled
from the city. After some time he met Muldev
and told him all that had passed. Muldev took
from him the magic ball and gave it to his son
Shashi. Then father and son each put a magic
ball into his mouth. Muldev became an old man,
his son became a handsome youth of twenty.
Then both went to the king. The king saluted
the Brahmans respectfully and gave them both
seats of honour. They in return blessed the king.
After enquiring after Muldev's health, the king
asked him where he had been during his absence.
"I went," said Muldev, "to look for my son. At last
I found him, and I have brought him with me.
Now if you will be so good as to- give him his
wife, we shall return to our own land."
When the king heard Muldev's request, he had
to tell him all that had happened to the Brahman
maid. Muldev listened until the king had finished.
Then in a fury he roared, "This is a fine tale!
capital! ha! ha! you did as you thought best
forsooth! Well, now you will have to feel the
weight of my curse!"
The king in a fright said, "Reverend sir! do
not curse me! If you but spare me, I am ready to
do anything you wish." " If you wish to escape
my curse," roared Muldev, "you must give your
daughter as a bride to my son." The king con-
sented. On an auspicious day he married public-
ly his daughter to Muldev's son. Then both
Muldev and Shashi, taking the princess with them
went back to their own land.
96 Tales of King Vikrama
When the Brahman youth came to hear of this,
he went to Muldev's son and angrily demanded
his wife. "No," said Shashi, "she is my wife. I
was publicly married to her." "But how can she
be your wife when she was already mine?" cried
the Brahman youth. They continued shouting at
each other for ever so long. And although
Muldev tried to pacify the Brahman youth, he
could not do so.
At ihis point the oilman's son .* said, "King
Vikrama, tell me whose wife the princess really
was." ''She was the wife of Shashi," answered
King Vikrama. "But how could she be?" asked the
oilman's son, "when she had already married
gome one else?" "No one knew," retorted King
Vikrama, "or could know about the first marriage;
whereas the second marriage was performed pub-
licly and everybody recognised it. So the princess
was really the wife of Muldev's son Shashi."
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had
once more broken his promise. Returning to the
burning ground, he flung the dead body over his
shoulder and began once more to retrace his
steps. As he went, the oilman's son began to tell
his fifteenth tale.
THE FIFTEENTH TALE
KING JIMUTKETU AND PRINCE
ONCE upon a time there stood upon the Hima-
layas a town of the Gandharvas. Over it ruled
a king Jimutketu by name. In order to obtain
a son he worshipped piously the Wishing
Tree. At last the Wishing Tree said to him, "O
king, I am pleased with your devotion. Ask any-
thing of me that you wish." "Divine Tree/' an-
swered the king, "vouchsafe me a son, who will
make my kingdom and my renown endure after
me." A year later one of his queens bore the king
a son. The king was delighted and gave large
sums in charity. Then he sent for Brahmans to
name his son. The Brahmans gave him the name
of Jimutvahan. When the boy was eight years old,
he began daily to worship the gods and to study
the sacred books. In this way he became so wise
and thoughtful, adventurous and brave, pious and
learned, that he had no equal in the whole king-
dom. And all his subjects became as virtuous as
he was. When he reached manhood, he worshipped
continuously the * Wishing Tree just as his father
had done. And the Wishing Tree, pleased with
him as it had been with his father, appeared be-
fore him and told him to ask for a boon.
* The Kalpa Vraksha or Wishing Tree has the quality of
granting any wish to him who sees it. It came up at the
churning of the ocean. The God Indra first took it, but the
greater God Vishnu eventually took it from him.
98 Tales of King Vikrama
" Divine Tree," said Jimutvahan, " if you are
pleased with me, then remove, I pray you, all
poverty from my people, make them all equally
rich." "So be it," said the Wishing Tree. Then
all King Jimutketu's subjects became so rich, that
none of them would obey any orders or do any
\vork. When the whole kingdom had become dis-
organised, the king's relatives conspired together,
saying: "Father and son have both become reli-
gious mad. No one obeys them. Let us, therefore
imprison both of them and take their throne from
them." The king never suspected the plot, until
his kinsmen one day with an armed force be-
sieged the palace. The king asked his son what
he should do. "Fear nothing," answered the prince,
"through your valour and merit, I shall beat them
in battle." "My son," said the king, "this body is
destructible and fortune is fickle. A man's end is
born with him. Therefore let us abandon our
kingdom and spend the rest of our lives in prayer.
If we fight for our lives and thrones, we shall in
the end repent of it." When the son heard the
king's words, he said, "As you please, my father.
Let us yield up our kingdom to our knsmen and
depart to do penances in the forest." Thereafter
the king summoned his kinsmen and handed over
the kingdom to them. Next lie and his son went
to the Malaya mountains and building a hut of
leaves dwelt in it. There Jimutvahan gained the
friendship of a rishi's son. One day the prince
and the rishi's son went for a walk among the
hills. As they walked, they saw a maiden playing
King Jimutketu and Prince Jimutvahan 99
on a lute and dancing before an image of Parvati.
When the prince's and the maiden's eyes met, they
instantly fell in love the one with the other. The
maiden blushing, ran back home. Jimutvahan
went home also ; he was too shy to tell his father
what had befallen him. But both he and the
maiden were unable to sleep and sighed the whole
night through. Next morning the maiden went to
Parvati's temple. Jimutvahan, too, went there
alone. He asked one of the serving maids who
her mistress was. She answered, "The princess'
name is Malay avati. She is the daughter of Malaya-
ketu, a king of the Vidyadharas. But you, sir,
who are you and whence have you come, and what
is your name?" The prince told the serving maid
his whole life-story from his birth onwards and
the serving maid repeated it all to the princess.
The princess became very sad and spent her days
lying on her couch, deep in thought. Her serving
maid told the queen. The queen told the king
and added that the princess was now a woman,
and that it was time to choose her a husband.
After the queen had spoken, King Malayaketu
thought the subject over. Then he sent for his
son Mitravasu and told him to look out for a
husband for his sister. "My father," said Mitra-
vasu, "I hear that Jamutketu, a king of the
Gandharvas and his son Jimutvahan have aban-
doned their kingdom and have come to live upon
these mountains." King Malayaketu said, "Very
well; I am quite willing to marry my daughter
to Jimutvahan. Go and see King Jimutketu and
100 Tales of King Yikrama
bring Jimutvahan back with you. Mitravasu
went to Jimutketu's hermitage and asked him to
let his son go back with him. "My father has sent
for him," the prince explained, "as he wishes to
bestow on him the princess my sister." King Jimut-
ketu agreed and sent back Jimutvahan with him.
Thereafter King Malayaketu married princess
Malayavati to prince Jimutvahan with great pomp
After the wedding, Jimutvahan with Malaya-
vati and Mitravasu returned to his hermitage.
All three fell at the old king's feet. And in re-
turn he blessed them. Next day both the young
princes went for a walk over the hills. As they
walked, they came to a big white heap. When
Jimutvahan saw it, he said, "Brother, what is that
big white heap?" Mitravasu replied, "The snake
people come up here by hundreds of thousands
and every day Garud* comes down from the sky
aji-cl eats them up. The heap is made of their
bones," Jimutvahan was silent for a moment,
then he said, "Brother, go home and have your
breakfast. I shall remain here and worship the
God Shiva. I always worship him at this time."
Mitravasu went back to breakfast and Jimutvahan
walked on. After he had walked on some way>
he heard the noise of some one weeping. Jimut-
vahan went in the direction of the sound. At last
he came to an old woman weeping. He went up
to her and asked her why she cried. "I have a
* Garud is Vishnu's Eagle. Vishnu rides him. (See Tales
from the Indian Epics.)
AND SEIZING HIM FLEW UP INTO THE HEAVENS
102 Tales of King Vikrama
son," she answered, "named Shankhchud. To-day
it is his tarn to serve as food for Garud. Garud
will surely eat him. That is why I am weeping."
"Do not weep, lady," said Jimutvahan, "I am ready
to give my life to save your son." "No, no," cried
the old woman, "do not throw away your life like
that. Indeed I feel as fond of you as if you were
my own son Shankhchud."
As she was speaking Shankhchud came up.
When he learnt what the prince had said, he
exclaimed, "Fair prince! do not sacrifice your life
for mine. There are many miserable wretches on
earth like me; whereas men as virtuous and
kindly as you, are rarely met with. If you live,
you (vill benefit thousands, whereas it makes no
difference to anyone whether I live or die." "Nay,"
answered Jimutvahan, "an honourable man cannot
go back on an offer once made. You go back the
way you came. I shall sit here where you would
have sat and Garud will come and eat me."
Shankhchud went to Parvati's temple to wor-
ship her image. Just after he had gone, Garud
swooped down from the sky. When the prince
saw his terrible form, horror seized him. Garud's
legs were four times longer than the tallest bam-
boo. His beak was as long as a toddy palm.
His great stomach was the size of a mountain.
His eyes were like the windows of a house. His
wings were like great black thunder-clouds.
With open beak he rushed at the prince and
seizing him flew up into the heavens in huge
circles. The prince had a golden ring on his
King Jimutketu and Prince Jimutvahan 103
finger on which his name was engraved. All
blood-smeared it slipped off his finger and fell
down upon the Malaya hills, close to where his
wife happened to be sitting. Directly she saw it,
she fainted. When she recovered consciousness,
she went home and told her father and mother.
They looked at the ring and recognising it as the
prince's were heart-broken with grief. Her
brother, sister and father went out to look for
Jimutvahan. On the way Shankhchud met them.
He told them the whole story and shewed them
Garud circling in the sky above them. Then he
ran until he got directly under the mighty bird
and shouted out, "O Garud, let him go. He is not
your prey. My name is Shankhchud. Here I am
sitting on this stone. Come and eat me." When
Garud heard, he was puzzled and descended to
earth. "Woe is me!" he thought to himself, "I
must have seized some Brahman or Kshatriya.
I have done a great sin." He freed the prince
and said, "Tell me, O man, who you are, and why
you throw your life away like this?"
"Listen," answered the prince, "a tree suffers
from the summer heat and yet throws a cool
shade. It bears fruits and others eat them. The
nature of the tree resembles that of the true man.
What avails a man to have a body if he cannot
use it for the benefit of others? If sandal- wood is
ground to powder it gives a sweeter perfume.
Sugar-cane gives its juice, only when it is cut in
pieces and pressed in the mill. To refine gold,
men heat it in the fire. Heroes remain true even
104 Tales of King Vikrama
though it cost them their lives. Pleasure and
pain matter nothing. It is all one to them whether
they die to-day or a hundred years hence. If
fortune is on a man's side, he is happy; if fortune
deserts him, he is miserable. He who walks in
the path of righteousness will face any evil but
he will not plant his foot in the path of wicked-
ness. A man becomes no better by growing rich,
nor does he become any worse if he grows poor.
In short, he who in this life does not win the
gratitude of another, lives in vain. But he who
gives his life for another has put it to good ser-
vice. Men who think only of saving their own
lives are no better than crows or dogs. But the
man who dies to save a cow or a Brahman, his
friend or his wife or, indeed, any other, goes to
Vaikunth, Vishnu's heaven." Garud answered,
"All honour to the man brave enough to give his
life for another. For he is rarely met with in this
world." Then he said, "I am pleased with your
gallant act; ask of me any boon you will." Prince
Jimutvahan said, "Divine Bird, grant me, I pray
you, this boon: eat no more snake people from
to-day onwards, and bring back to life those of the
snake people that you have eaten in the past."
Garud on hearing the words of the prince, des-
cended into Patala and bringing back ambrosia
sprinkled it over the heap of bones. Instantly, all
the snake people that he had eaten, came to life
again. Then Garud blessed Jimutvahan saying,
"Prince, you will win back your kingdom." After
making this promise, Garud went to his own abode
King Jimutketu and Prince Jimutvahan 105
and Shankhchud went back to his dwelling place
underground. Jimutvahan rejoined his father-in-
law, his brother-in-law and his wife and all went
back rejoicing to Jimutvahan's hermitage. But
the fame of Prince Jimutvahan's noble act spread
to his father's kingdom. And his kinsmen and all
his people on hearing of it, set out to the Malaya
mountains and called him back to sit upon his
At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vi-
krama, tell me who of these persons was the no-
blest?" "Shankhchud," replied the king. "Why?"
asked the oilman's son. "Because," said King
Vikrama, "although Shankhchud had only just es-
caped death, he yet offered his life to save the prince
from Garud's clutches." "But" objected the oilman's
son, "surely the prince's conduct in offering his
life to save Shankhchud was nobler still." "No,"
said King Vikrama, "prince Jimutvahan was a
Kshatriya by caste; Kshatriyas are taught from
childhood that they must place no value on their
lives. It was thus not hard for the prince to offer
his to save Shankhchud." When King Vikrama
had finished speaking, he found himself alone.
He realised that he had again broken his promise.
Returning to the burning ground lie took the
dead body down from the branch and began once
more to retrace his steps. As he did so, the oil-
man's son began to tell his sixteenth tale.
THE SIXTEENTH TALE
THE KING AND UNMADINI
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Chaiidrashekhar. A merchant lived there
called Ratnadatta. He had a daughter
named Unmadini. When she was in the
flower of her youth, the merchant went to the
king and said, "My lord king, I have a very
beautiful daughter. If you like, I am ready to
bestow her on you." The king called two or three
of his eldest friends and bade them go to Ratna-
datta's house and find out what the maid was like.
If she was pretty, he was willing to marry her.
The king's friends went, as ordered, and all were
charmed by the girl's beauty. Indeed, her loveli-
ness was beyond description. No one would
have deemed her a human maid. Her beauty
outshone the jewels she wore. Truly she was
what the ancient books have called a maid of the
lotus kind*. When the King's friends saw her,
*The ancient Hindus divided women into four classes:
a- Padmani or the lotus kind, i. e., one in whom every
excellence is joined.
b. Chit-rani or the variegated kind, i. e., one in whom some
defects are to be found, but in whom the virtues pre-
c. Hastani or the elephant kind, i.e., one who swings her
hips in a wide circle when walking, a quality much
d. Skankhani or the conch type, L e., a woman of no beauty
either of form, face or mind. In addition to her ugli-
ness she has a voice like a war horn.
The King and Unmadini 107
they reflected that if they told the king that the
girl was pretty, he would wed her. Once married
he would never leave her side, but would bask in
her beauty all day long. In this way he would
neglect his duties and ruin his kingdom. They
therefore resolved to tell the king that Unmadini
was ugly. They went back to the king and said,
"O Maharaja, we have seen the maid as you
ordered us to do. But she is ugly and in no way
worthy of you." When the king heard this, he
told the merchant that he would not marry his
Some time afterwards the merchant gave his
daughter in marriage to the king's general
Balbhadra by name. Unmadini went to live in
her husband's house. One day the king and his
suite happened to pass by Balbhadra's house.
Unmadini went and stood upon the balcony to
see the king pass. He fell at once in love with
her and thought to himself, " She must be some
wood-nymph or apsara.* No daughter of man
could be so lovely as she. The king concealing
his passion, returned the same evening to the
palace. The sentry at the door noticed that the
king's face was care-worn and said, "My lord king,
what ails you?" "My man, how can I tell you?"
said the king, "I saw a lovely woman on the
balcony of Balbhadra's house. I saw her only
once, yet I am her slave. That is what ails me."
*Apsaras are immortal ladies-in-waiting at the god
108 Tales of King Vikrama
"My lord king, that was the merchant Ratna-
datta's daughter. He has married her to your
general Balbhadra." When the king heard this,
he realised that the friends whom he had sent to
see the maiden had tricked him. He sent a
messenger to call them. When they stood before
him, he said, "You did not do as I told you, but
disobeyed the order that I gave you and told me
a lot of falsehoods. To-day I saw Ratnadatta's
daughter with my own eyes. She has such charm
and beauty that I shall never get a wife like her."
"O Maharaja," pleaded the king's friends, "it is
true that we lied to you, but hear, we pray you,
why we did so. If you had married a wife of
such surpassing beauty, she would have enslaved
you and you would have neglected the duties of
your state. This would have brought misery on
your subjects. The fear of this calamity led us
into error." "You are right," said the king. Then
he suddenly remembered Unmadini and fell into
a dead faint.
Every one in the city came to hear of the
king's love for Unmadini. When the news reached
Balbhadra, he at once went to the king and rous-
ing him from his fainting fit said with clasped
hands, "O lord of the Earth! I am your slave;
my wife is your bondswoman. Why should you
suffer grief on her account? Whenever you tell
me, I am ready to bring her here for you to
marry." When the king heard the general's
words, he grew very angry. "To covet another's
wife is a great sin. Why do you suggest that I
The King and Unmadini 109
should do sucli a thing? I am a just man and I
could never be guilty of such an act. I look on
all other men's wives as if they were my mothers;
and I regard all other men's riches as if they
were dirt. A king should behave towards other
men as he would that they should behave unto
"But," objected Balbhadra, "Unmadini is my
bondmaiden and I have given her to you. Why
then, do you say that she belongs to another?"
"Nay," answered the king, "I can never do an act
which would stain my honour." "But my lord
king," persisted the general, u if I drive my wife
out of the house and turn her into a dancing girl,
then surely I can offer her to you." At this the
king grew more angry than ever. "If you dare,"
he cried, "to turn a chaste wife into a dancing-
girl, I shall surely punish you." After he had
said this, the king again remembered Unmadini
and fell into a dead faint. Ten days later he died.
The king's general Balbhadra went to his
spiritual teacher and said, "My master died
through love of Unmadini, tell me what I should
do." The teacher replied, "It is the duty of the
servant to die with his master." On hearing this
Balbhadra went with his master's corpse to the
burning ground and lit the funeral pyre. Then
he turned to the sun with clasped hands and cried,
"O Sun god, I ask this of you with all my body,
speech and mind. Grant that at every fresh birth
the dead king shall be my master and that I may
through all time sing your praises". Next he
110 Tales of King Vikrama
prostrated himself in honour of the Sun god. Then
leaping into the fire he died near his master.
When Unmadini came to know what her
husband had done, she went to her spiritual
teacher and' told him in detail all that had hap-
pened. Then she said, "My master, tell me what
I should do." The teacher replied, "Lady, the
woman who serves the husband to whom her
parents gave her, she alone is deemed to act
righteously. She who disobeys her husband and
busies herself in outside matters ruins her hus-
band's happiness and receives her punishment in
HelL Whosoever her husband may be, him only
the wife should serve. Thus she will attain happi-
ness. When he dies she should pass with him
through the flames. This and no other is the
On hearing this Unmadini prostrated herself
before her spiritual teacher and went to her house.
There she bathed and distributed a great treasure
among the Brahmans. Next she walked round
her husband's pyre, crying, "O lord of my life!
may I be your slave from birth to birth." Lastly
she mounted the burning pyre and there perished.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vi-
krama, tell me who of those persons had the great-
est merit." "The king," answered King Vikrama.
"He refused to accept his general's wife, and al-
though he died of love for her, he would not com-
mit unrighteousness. To give one's life for one's
master is the duty of the servant. To die on one's
husband's pyre is the duty of a wife."
The King and Unmadini
When King Vikrama had finislied speaking he
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had
again broken his promise. He returned to the
burning ground and found the dead body hang-
ing to the tree. He flung it over his shoulder and
began to retrace his steps. As he went, the oil-
in an's son began to tell his seventeenth tale.
THE SEVENTEENTH TALE
GUNAKAR AND THE ANCHORITE
ONCE upon a time a king called Mahasen ruled
over Ujjain city. In it too lived a Brahman
called Devsharma and his son Gunakar.
The son was a great gambler and he gambled
away all his inheritance. At last his kinsmen
drove him out of the house. As he had no money,
he could no longer gamble ; and when he was not
gambling, he was not happy. In despair he set
forth on a journey. He came to a city near which
he saw an anchorite inhaling smoke. Gunakar
went up to him, bowed to him and then sat down
"My lad,' 1 said the anchorite, "would you like
anything to eat?" "Yes," said Gunakar, "if you
will be so good as to give me food, I shall be glad
to eat it." The anchorite filled a skull with food
and handed it to Gunakar. But the latter said,
"I cannot eat food from a dead man's skull." As
the youth would not eat, the anchorite repeated an
incantation. *A Yakshani appeared before him.
She clasped her hands and said, "Lord, what are
your commands?" "Give this Brahman youth," an-
swered the anchorite, "a dinner that he will like."
The Yakshani at once created a beautiful palace,
in which was to be found everything that a man's
heart could desire. Then taking Gunakar by the
*A Yakshani is a female immortal who is particularly
susceptible to incantations.
Gimakar and the Anchorite 113
hand, she led him into the palace, seated him on a
throne and placed in front of him a gorgeous feast
of which every dish had no less than six distinct
Gunakar enjoyed the feast and ate to his heart's
content. The Yakshani gave him a roll of betel-
nut. Next she powdered some saffron in some
rose water and anointed him and put round his
neck garlands of fragrant flowers. Then she robed
him in rich clothes and led him to a splendid
bed, heavy with costly draperies. The Brahman
tirec* with his journey went fast asleep and the
Yakshani returned to her dwelling place. When
he awoke, he could see her nowhere. He went
back to the ascetic and said, "The Yakshani has
fled away; what am I to do?" "My lad," said the
anchorite, "she was forced to come by the power
of the incantation which I repeated. She will
only stay with one who can repeat it correctly."
"Reverend sir," cried Gunakar, "teach me for
mercy's sake that spell. The anchorite told him
the words of the spell and bade him go and sit
at midnight in water and to remain there for
forty consecutive days and nights repeating the
words over and over again with his mind conceit
trated on them and on nothing else.
Gunakar sat in water for forty days muttering
the spell. Slowly and in great hardship the days
passed by, but at the end no Yakshani appeared.
"Reverend sir," said Gunakar to the anchorite,
"I have done all that you told me, but nothing /
has come of it." "You must now," said the ancho^
114 Tales of King Vikrama
rite, "sit in fire for forty days repeating the
spell." "Very well," said Gunakar, "but before I
begin I must pay a visit to my home."
He said good-bye to the anchorite and returned
home. All his family flung themselves on his
neck and said lovingly to him, "O Gunakar,
where have you been all this time? Why did
you desert your home?" His father said, "My son,
the man who deserts a chaste wife will never
prosper and merits the name of base-born. For
it is written in the sacred books that there is no
life like that of the householder and there 4s no
happiness like a wife's 'love. Those who revile
their parents deserve also the name of base-born.
They will prosper neither on earth nor in heaven."
"My father," retorted Gunakar, "a man's body
is made of flesh and blood. It is the dwelling
place of acts done in a former life. Such is its
nature that if it is not washed daily it becomes
malodorous. The wise are those who have no
affection for such a body. Again what trust can
be placed in that which is always being born
again and that dies as often as is born? No
matter how much a man tries, he can never make
his body holy, any more than he can make coal
white by scrubbing it. Mothers, fathers, wives,
brothers, their name is legion! yet all of them
perish. Therefore all is vanity. Those who offer
sacrifices are honoured by the gods, but those
who become anchorites become themselves the
dwelling places of the gods. I shall no longer
stay at home; but henceforward I shall give
Gunakar and the Anchorite 115
myself up to the study of asceticism." With these
words Gunakar left the spot and returned to the
Gunakar for forty days sat in a burning fire
repeating the anchorite's spell, but no Yakshani
appeared. He went to the anchorite. The latter
asked him whether the Yakshani had appeared.
Gunakar replied that she had not.
At this point the oilman's son sai^l, "King
Vikrama, tell me why Gunakar could not work
the spell." King Vikrama answered, "To work a
spell one 'must think of it and it only, when repeat-
ing it. For if the mind is disturbed the spell has
no power. Without generosity no man can win
fame. He who abandons the true path feels no
shame when in the path of evil. He who does
not give all his thoughts to " God does not see
God." "But," objected the oilman's son, "how can
you say that one who sat for forty days in a
burning fire in order that the spell might work,
could not properly concentrate his thoughts?"
"At the very time," answered King Vikrama, "that
he was trying to work the spell, he went off to
see his family. The anchorite got angry, for he
saw that he had told the incantation to a man of
unstable will. So the Yakshani never came back.
It is written in the sacred books that no matter
how brave a man be, he must have fortune on his
side; and that no matter how much a man strive,
he will never get more than that to which his
former life entitles him."
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he
Tales of King Vikrama
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had
once more broken his promise. He returned to
the burning ground, took the dead body down
from the tree and flinging it once more over his
shoulder began to retrace his steps. As he went,
the oilman's son began to tell his eighteenth tale.
THE EIGHTEENTH TALE
THE ROBBER'S BRIDE
ONCE upon a time there was a town called
Luchal. Over it ruled a king called Sudaksh,
and in it lived a merchant whose name was
Dhanadhyaksh, who had a daughter called
Dhanvati. While she was still a child, her father
married her to a youth called Gouridatta. In
course of time she gave birth to a daughter to
whom she gave the name of Mohini. When the
little girl was only seven, her father Gouridatta
died. His kinsmen at once seized all his property.
In despair, Dhanvati, late one night, took her little
girl by the hand and started to return home.
After some distance she lost her way and by
mistake entered a burning ground. Therein stood
a stake upon which a robber had been impaled.
Suddenly her hand touched the robber's foot.
"Who at such a time of night hurts my foot?"
roared the robber. Dhanvati replied, "I never
meant to hurt you. I did it without knowing
that I did it. Therefore, please forgive me."
"Lady," answered the robber, "no one gives
another happiness or pain. A man enjoys such
fortune as he is destined to enjoy. If a man says
that he did such and such a thing, he speaks fool-
ishly. For a man is bound fast by his actions in
a former life. These actions drag a man hither
and thither as they will. No one knows what is
in store for him. A man makes plans, but fortune
brings them to nought."
118 Tales of King Vikrama
After listening to this long speech, Dhanvati
said, "Who are you, sir?" "I am a robber," was the
answer. "I have been impaled for three days on
this stake. Yet even now my life will not depart."
"But," answered Dhanvati, "why?" "I have never
been married," answered the robber, "and in the
hope of my marriage my life still clings to my
body. If you will give me your daughter, I shall
give you a crore of rupees." Now the cause of sin
is greed, the cause of disease is infection, and the
cause of grief is friendship. Only he is happy
who avoids all three. But no one ever does avoid
them. Thus it befell that through her desire to
get the money, Dhanvati agreed to marry her
daughter to the robber. "Very well," she said,
''but suppose that thereafter she wants to have a
son, how can she have one?" "When she grows
to womanhood," answered the robber, "you must
marry her to some handsome Brahman. Give
him five hundred gold coins as her dowry, and
she will become the mother of a son."
On hearing these words Dhanvati walked
round the stake and married her little girl to the
robber. The latter then said, "If you go to the
east, you will see a banian tree near a dark well.
At the foot of the tree is the buried treasure,
take it and keep it." Having said this, he died.
Dhanvati went to the spot and found the treasure.
Taking only a few rupees with her she went to
her parents* house. She told them what had
happened. Then she went with them to her
husband's village and built a big house and lived
The Robber's Bride 119
in it. As the years passed, her daughter Mohini
grew up. One day as she was standing by the
upper window of her house a Brahman youth
passed by. Directly she saw him, she fell in love
with him. "Go at once," she said to her maid
servant, "and take him to my mother." The maid
servant did so. Dhanvati said to the youth, "Good
sir, I have a daughter, if you will marry her and
she bears you a son, I shall give you a hundred
rupees." The Brahman agreed. That night they
A year later Mohini gave birth to a son. On
the sixth night after his birth, she had a dream.
She saw an anchorite. His hair was in a matted
coil; on his forehead was the moon. His body
was smeared with white ashes. He was seated
on a white lotus. A white snake was twined about
his neck, from which hung a garland of skulls. In
one hand he carried a human head. In the other
he had a trident. He was of great stature and his
look was terrible. He said to Mohini, "To-morrow
at midnight put your little boy in a box and put
with him a bag containing a thousand rupees.
Then leave the box by the door of the king's
palace." Just then Mohini awoke and saw that it
was broad daylight. She told her mother her
dream. That night she put her little boy and the
money in a box and left it opposite the king's door.
That night the king saw in a dream, a man of
gigantic stature, who had ten arms, five heads
with three eyes each, enormous teeth, and a moon
on each forehead. The man said to the king, "A
120 Tales of King Vikrama
box has been left at your door. In it you will
find a baby boy. Take him in. He will rule over
Just then the king awoke. He told his dream
to the queen. Next he went to the palace door
and found the box. He opened it and found inside
a baby boy and a bag containing a thousand rupees,
The king lifted up the baby boy and told the
sentry to carry inside the bag of a thousand rupees.
The king next went to the queen and placed the
baby boy in her lap. By this time the sun had
risen. He sent for the wise men and astrologers
and asked them to see if the child had any of the
marks of royal blood. Now there was among the
wise men one especially skilled in chiromancy.
He said, "My lord king, I can see three clear marks.
The first is the boy's broad chest, the second is
his lofty forehead, the third is the length of his
body. Besides these he has all the thirty-two
points which are said to indicate a hero. He is
certainly destined to rule a kingdom." When the
king heard this, he gave large sums in charity.
He next took off the jewels that he was wearing
and giving them to the Brahmans bade them name
the child. "Great king," they replied, "take the boy
and sit with it near the queen. Then bid all your
subjects hold high festival. Thereafter we shall
give the child a name in the manner required by
the sacred books."
The king told the minister to make arrange-
ments as the Brahmans had orderd. The minister
sent criers through all the city to announce to
The Robber's Bride 121
all that the queen had borne the king a son.
When the citizens heard this, they poured out of
their houses and flocked to the royal palace. In
the palace the musicians played gay tunes and
in the temples were held thanksgiving services.
The king placed the boy on the queen's lap and
sat with her on the same dining platform. As they
did so, the Brahmans began to repeat sacred verses.
Lastly after examining the stars, an astrologer
gave the boy the name of Hardatta. As time
passed the boy grew. When he was nine years
old, he knew the sacred books, the fourteen sciences
and had become famous for his learning. Suddenly
his parents died. He succeeded them on the throne
and began to rule wisely and well. After some
years had passed, he thought to himself, " Although
my parents gave me life, yet I have done nothing
for them in return. For it is said that only those
who shew mercy to all are wise and will in the
end go to heaven. Those whose minds are im-
pure, reap nothing from their charities, their de-
votions, their austerities and their pilgrimages.
Those who without faith worship their fathers'
spirits do it in vain and their fathers' spirits remain
After these reflections, King Hardatta resolved
to go to Gaya and offer sacred cakes to his father's
spirit. He went to the banks of the Phalgu river
and began to offer sacred cakes. Instantly three
hands arose from the river. The king became per-
plexed, for he wondered into which hand he
should give the sacred cake.
INSTANTLY THREE HANDS AROSE FROM THE RIVER
The Robber's Bride
At this point the oilman's son said, "Tell me
King Vikrma, in which of the three hands should
King Hardatta have placed the sacred cake?" "In
none of them," answered King Vikrama. "The rob-
ber was not King Hardatta's father. The Brah-
man sold himself for a hundred rupees. The king
only took the child because there were a thousand
rupees in the box. Neither the robber, the Brah-
man, nor the king deserved any offerings."
When the king had finished speaking, he saw
that he was alone. He realised that he had
once more broken his promise. He returned to
the burning ground where the dead body was
hanging from one of the branches. He flung it
over his shoulder and began once more to retrace
his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began
to tell his nineteenth tale.
THE NINETEENTH TALE
THE GIANT AND THE BRAHMAN BOY
ONCE upon a time there was a city called
Chitrakuta. Over it ruled a king Darned
Rupadatta. One day he mounted his horse
and rode out to hunt. He lost his way in
the middle of a great forest and found himself on
the shores of a wide lake. Upon its surface
lotuses were blooming, many kinds of water-fowl
were sitting on its banks and calling each to its
mate. All round was the shade of leafy trees. A
cool fragrant breeze was blowing and the king
who was weary from the heat tied his horse to a
tree and spreading a carpet on the grass sat
upon it. About half an hour later a young and
beautiful maiden, the daughter of a hermit, passed
by gathering flowers. Directly the king saw her,
he loved her. When she was going away with
the flowers, the king called to her, "Fair maid!
Is this the way to treat me? I am a stranger
who has come to your hermitage, yet you do not
ask me if I need anything." On hearing the
king's words the maiden stopped. The king
continued, "Even if a low caste stranger goes to
the house of a high caste, yet he should be hon-
oured. Be he thief, outcast or king, the stranger
should always be honoured. Such is one's duty,
because the stranger is the spiritual teacher of
all." As the king spoke, the maiden gradually
lifted her eyes to his. But before she could ans-
wer the hermit himself came. The king on seeing
The Giant and the Brahman Boy 125
him saluted him. The hermit blessed him as a
son and asked him why he had come. "Reverend
sir," replied the king, "I came here a-hunting."
"But why," asked the hermit, "do you commit so
terrible a sin? For it is written in the sacred
books that the fruit of one man's sin is the punish-
ment of many." "Reverend sir," replied the king,
"give me, I pray you, some religious teaching."
"O king listen," said the hermit, "to kill animals
that live upon grass and water in the forest is a
great sin. To feed birds and beasts is a virtuous
act. He who consoles one who in fear begs for
mercy, wins the merit of a great charity. There is
no penance which equals in value to forgiveness.
There is no happiness like contentment. There is
no wealth like friendship. There is no virtue so
great as mercy. Those who walk in righteous 1
ness and truth, who cherish their wives, who boast
not of their wealth, learning, accomplishments,
reputation and power, they in the end attain to
salvation. But magicians, sorcerers, those who kill
others in quarrels, kings who do not protect their
subjects from oppressors, men who lead astray the
wife of a king or the wife or daughter of a friend,
they are in the end condemned to hell. For so it
is written in the sacred books."
When the king had heard this discourse, he
clasped his hands and said, "Reverend sir! I cai>
not help the sins that I have hitherto committed
through ignorance. But through God's mercy, I
shall hereafter act as you have told me." The hei>
mit , was pleased and said, "O king, I am pleased
126 Tales of King Vikrama
with you. Ask of me any boon you will/' "If you
are really pleased with me," answered the king, "give
me your daughter to be my bride." The hermit
consented and married his daughter to the king
by the Gandharva marriage rites. Then he re-
turned to his hermitage. The king taking the her-
mit's daughter set out to return to his city. As
they went, the sun set and the moon rose. The
king saw a big teee by the road. He dismounted
and tied his horse to one of its roots. And he and
his bride lay down together on the king's carpet.
In the middle of the night a hideous giant came
and waking the king said, "O king, I am going
to eat your wife." "Nay, do not eat her," cried the
king, "I shall give you anything you ask for, if
you will but spare her." "I shall spare her only
on one condition," answered the giant. "You must
yourself cut off the head of a Brahman boy of
seven years old and give it to me." "Very well,"
replied the king, "come on the seventh day from
now to my palace and I shall give you the head."
Having thus snared the king into a promise, the
giant went home. Next morning the king reached
his palace. The minister went to congratulate him
on his marriage. The king told him what had
happened. " What shall I do," he continued, " for the
giant will surely come on the seventh day?" "My
lord king," said the minister, "do not be downcast
With Heaven's help all will be well."
The minister took his leave and had made a
golden jewel-studded image that weighed one and
a quarter maund. He had it erected in the public
The Gaint and the Brahman Boy 127
square and asked the guards to tell everyone who
stopped to look at it that the king would give it to
any Brahman who would give his seven year old
boy to the king, that he might cut his head off.
Two days passed without result. On the third day
a Brahman of that city who had three sons went
to his wife and said, "I am going to offer one of my
sons to the king and I am going to bring back home
the golden image." When his wife heard this, she
said, "I am not going to let you take the youngest."
The Brahman said, "And I am not going to offer
to the king the eldest." Hearing their talk, the
second son said, "Take me father." The Brahman
thought to himself: "In this world wealth is the
chief thing. If riches go, happiness goes with them.
He who is born poor lives in vain. The wise have
said that poverty is the source of evil, the abiding
place of iniquity, the home of recklessness, the
mother of illusion and the enemy of religion. How
can it, therefore, have any virtue? It has also been
said that one should store up wealth against the
day of trouble. One can then save one's wife by
sacrificing one's wealth; but if need be, one should
sacrifice both wife and wealth to save oneself."
The Brahman, rambling in this fashion, took
his son to the image and exchanging him for it
took the image home. On the seventh day the giant,
as arranged, came. The king worshipped the Brah-
man boy by offering him scent, flowers, ghee, food,
fruit, betel-nut, rich robes and by burning a lamp
in front of him. Then he drew his sword and got
ready to kill him. As the king did so, the boy first
128 Tales of King Vikrama
laughed and then began to cry. A moment later
the king had cut his head off.
1 When the giant saw how truly the king had
kept his promise, he was pleased and said, "O
king, ask a boon of me ! " " Sir giant !" said the king,
"bring this boy back to life/' The giant went to
King Bibhishan* and through his help went to Pa-
tala. Thence he fetched ambrosia and with it re-
stored the boy to life.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vikra-
ma! men weep at the approach of death. Why
did the boy laugh?" King Vikrama answered: "The
boy was astonished, because it is the custom of
this world that mothers protect their children in
childhood and fathers protect them in youth, while
kings should always protect their subjects. But in
his case his parents had sold him to the king for
money; the king with his own sword was about to
slay him and even the giant desired his death.
Pity found no place in any heart. Because of his
astonishment the boy laughed."
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had
again broken his promise. He therefore returned
to the burning ground. Flinging the dead body
over his shoulder, he began to retrace his steps.
As he did so, the oilman's son began to tell his
"King Bibhishan or Vibhishan was the brother of Ravari,
king of Ceylon. After Ramachandra had killed Ravan and
recovered Sita, he seated Bibhishan on the vacant throne,
(see Indian Heroes). The giant, (a rakshas in the story) in-
voked Bibhishan^ help as he was the king of all the rakshsas.
THE TWENTIETH TALE
ONCE upon a time there ruled over the town of
Vilaspur, a king called Vipuleshwar. In the
town lived a merchant who had a daughter
called Madanmanjari. Her father married
her to a merchant whose name was Dhanawati.
One day he sailed away to trade in a far country.
In his absence his wife Madanmanjari was sitting
by an upper window and looking into the road.
As she looked, she saw a Brahman youth whose
name was Kamalakar. Their eyes met and in-
stantly each fell in love with the other. After
some minutes Kamalakar had recovered suffi-
ciently to go to the house of a friend. Madan-
manjari fainted. Her maid servant entered the
room and lifted her up, but she did not recover
consciousness. The maid servant sprinkled water
over her. When she returned to her senses, she
cried, "O god of Love, Shiva* burnt you to ashes,
yet still your wickedness endures and you inflict
pain on innocent women."
When evening came and the moon rose, she
looked at the moon and said, "O moon! I have
heard it said that in you is stored ambrosia and
that by means of your rays you shower down am-
* Shiva burnt Kamadeva to ashes because he shot an arrow
into Shiva's heart and so made him fall in love with Parvati.
(/ have told the story in Ishtur Phakde.)
130 Tales of King Vikrama
brosia on earth. But upon me to-day you have
showered poison." She then said to her maid,
"Take me to my room; the moon's rays are burn-
ing up my body." The maid servant took her in
and said, "My mistress! are you not ashamed to
say such things?" Madanmanjari answered, "Yes,
I know, I do my best not to; but what can I do?
Love's arrow has pierced me and robbed me of all
shame. I cannot bear to be parted from my be-
loved. The very air of this house seems poisoned."
On hearing this the maid said, "Be brave, my
mistress, I shall find means to cure your pain."
The maid servant went home. After she had
left, Madanmanjari thought to herself, "If I sacri-
fice this aching body to win him for my husband,
I shall become his wife in my next life." She tied
a rope round her neck and was about to hang her-
self when her maid returned. The maid untied the
rope and said, "What is the use of dying? If you
live, you will get all you desire." "It is better to
die than suffer as I do," retorted Madanmanjari.
"Be patient for only half an hour," said the maid
servant, " and I shall bring your beloved to see you."
The servant went to Kamalakar's house. She
found him also very ill. His friend was sprinkling
rose water over him, anointing him with powdered
sandalwood and fanning him with lotus leaves.
In spite of this cooling treatment his face and body
were burning and from time to time he called to
his friend, "Give me poison! give me poison, so
that I may die and escape from my pain!" When
she saw his state, the maid servant said to herself,
Madanmanjari,Kamalakar & Dhanawati 131
"After all there is nothing strange in this, for no
matter how learned or how wise a man may be,
the god of Love can in a moment lay him low."
The maid servant said to Kamalakar, "Madan-
manjari has sent me to call you to her, that you
may save her life." "Your words," replied Kama-
lakar, "have saved mine." So saying he sprang
from his couch to his feet. He went with the
maid servant to Madanmanjari's house. There
the maid servant went to her mistress's room, but
found her lying dead. When she told JKamalakar
he gave a great cry and fell down dead also.
Madanmanjari's kinsmen carried both bodies to
the burning ground and placing them together
on a pyre set fire to it. Just then Madanmanjari's
husband Dhanawati returned from his travels.
On hearing the whole story, he went to the
burning ground. When he saw his wife's body
burning alongside a strange man's he was so
overcome with grief, that he sprang into the
flames and perished. When the citizens learnt
what had happened, they said one to the other,
"We have never in our lives seen or heard of
such a marvel."
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama! tell me who of those three persons was
most in love." "The husband," answered the king.
"Why?" asked the oilman's son. "Because,"
answered King Vikrama, "he killed himself for
love of one who loved another." When the King
Vikrama had finished speaking, he saw that he
was alone. He realised that he had again broken
Tales of King Vikrama
his promise. He returned to the burning ground.
Taking the dead body off the tree, he flung it
over his shoulder and began to retrace his steps.
As he went, the oilman's son began to tell his
THE TWENTY-FIRST TALE
THE LION AND THE FOUR LEARNED
ONCE upon a time in the town of Jalasthal,
there ruled a king called Vartaman. In it
lived a Brahman called Vishnuswami, who
had four sons. One was a gambler, the
second -was an evil-liver, the third was a criminal,
and the fourth was an atheist. One day Vishnu-
swami lectured his sons saying, "Fortune never
dwells in the house of a gambler. For it is written
in the law books that one should cut off a gam-
bler's nose and ears and drive him from the city.
Then others warned by his fate will give up gam-
bling. A gambler who has a wife and children
is the same as if he had them not, for he never
knows when this punishment may not descend
on him. In the same way, those who fall in love
with dancing girls only make themselves unhappy.
Wise men shun such women. Fools give them
their love and for their sakes ruin their health^
their careers, their intellects, their morals and
their religion. Such men pay no heed to the
words of their spiritual pastors and masters. They
squander their money and in the end take to thiev-
ing. Further, those who say that all religion is
false, atheists who are not ashamed to say that
man all his life should do nothing but enjoy him-
self, they corrupt not only themselves, but others.
If a cat eats her own kittens, is she likely to let a
mouse go scot free?" "Those," the old man continued,
134 Tales of King Vikrama
"who do not study in their boyhood, but waste
their youth in pleasure and their manhood in van-
ity, bitterly repent night and day in their old age."
When the old man had finished, his four sons
were overcome by remorse and they agreed that
it was better to die than to live without learning.
"Let us, therefore," they said one to the other, "go
into a far country and acquire learning." They
went off together to another town and after some
years of study, became learned men and set out
towards their own home. On the way they saw a
dead lion. A man had separated its bones, its
flesh, and its skin and had put them in a leather
well-bucket and was taking them away. "Here,"
said the four brothers, "is a chance of displaying
our learning." One of them went to the man who
carried the lion's remains and bought them from
him. Then he opened the well-bucket, and sprink-
ling some water repeated some magical words. In-
stantly the bones re-united. The second repeated
some other words, and the flesh stuck again to the
bones. The third in the same way made the skin
grow once more upon the flesh. The fourth re-
stored the lion to life. Instantly the lion rushed
at the four brothers and ate them up.
When the oilman's son had reached this point,
he said, "Who of those four was the biggest fool?"
King Vikrama answered, "He who restored the lion
to life. For, it is said that learning without wisdom
is of no use. To be both learned and wise is the
best of all. But wisdom by itself is better than
learning by itself. Those who have no wisdom
The Lion and the Four learned Men 135
perish like the man who restored the lion to life."
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he saw
that he was alone. He remembered that he had
again broken his promise. He went back to the
burning ground and flinging the dead body over
his shoulder, began to retrace his steps. As he
did so, the oilman's son began to tell his twenty-
THE TWENTY-SECOND TALE
THE MAGICIAN AND THE DEAD
ONCE upon a time k king named Vidagadha
lived in Vishvapur city. In it also lived
a Brahman called Narayan. One day he
thought to himself, "My body is old. It will
be a good thing to abandon my old body and en-
ter some young man's body." For, he had learnt
how to do this. When the chance came he did so.
Then he wept and then he laughed. Then in his
new body he returned home. He said to his friends
who knew his skill as a magician, "I have now
become an anchorite. He who turns his mind into
a corpse by the fire of austerities upon the shores
of the lake of hope and at the same time cools his
limbs, he is the skilled anchorite. For the state of
men who live in this world is as follows:
The body is wasted, the hair is gray;
The face falls in and the teeth decay;
Man takes a stick to support his frame
But hope in his heart rules just the same.
Evening falls when the day is dead,
When night is over the dawn glows red,
Grow the days to weeks, the weeks to years,
And childhood goes with its smiles and tears.
On the heels of youth Old Age comes fast
And Death, grim Death, claims all at last."
"But as no one knows who he himself is, or who
others are, why should any look for another? In
The Magician and the dead Youth 137
the end all go and none remains. The body, the
mind, the love of this world are all false roads.
The wise guards himself against them. He puts
aside hope and ambition, and taking a stick in his
hand, becomes an ascetic. He puts aside love and
anger, greed, intoxication and envy and spends
the rest of his life in visiting the sacred places.
Thus he attains salvation. This world is as false
as a dream. Why, therefore, like anything in it or
set your heart upon it? Just as the rind of the
plantain has no sweetness, so there is no sweet-
ness in this world. Those who take pride in their
riches, their youth or their learning are fools. So
too are those anchorites who wandering with a
staff in their hands grow fast by begging milk and
sweetmeats 4 and smile on women. For they vainly
exchange an imperishable for a perishable happi-
ness. I am now going to make a pilgrimage to the
various shrines of India." When his relatives heard
this pious discourse, they were greatly edified.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vikrama,
why did the man first weep and then laugh?"
" Because," answered King Vikrama, "he remem-
bered the sports of his childhood and the joys of
his youth and he wept because he was leaving a
body in which he had lived so long and which he
had grown to love. Then when he saw that by his
own unaided skill he had won for himself a new
body, he laughed with pleasure.
When the king had finished speaking, he saw
that he was alone. He saw that he had again
broken his promise. He returned to the burning
Tales of King Vikrama
ground and taking the dead body on his back
began once more to retrace his steps. As he went,
the oilman's son began to tell his twenty-third tale.
THE TWENTY-THIRD TALE
THE THREE SONS OF GOVIND
ONCE upon a time when King Dharmatma
was ruling in Dharmapur there lived in it a
Brahman called Govind who knew the four
sacred books by heart and the six sciences.
He was well versed also in faith, doctrine and
ritual. He had four sons called Haridatta, Soma-
datta, Yadnyadatta and Brahmadatta. They too,
were studious and learned and they always did
what their father told them. One day the eldest
son died. Through grief at his death Govind fell
so sick that he was on the point of death also.
Vishnuswami, the king's priest, hearing of this went
to lecture him. "Man," he said, "is born to sorrow.
In his childhood he plays; in his youth he finds
happiness in love. In old age he suffers pain
because of the decay of his body. To the dwellers
in this world are given many sorrows and few
joys. This world is but the seed of the tree of
sorrow. Though a man sit on the top of a tree,
or the peak of a mountain, or descend into hell, or
hide under the water, or conceal himself in an
iron cage, yet he shall not escape death. Wise men
and fools, rich and poor, the learned, the strong,
the weak death strikes them all down. A man's
life is at most a hundred years. Half of it passes
at night. Of the other half a half is spent useless-
ly in childhood and old age. The rest is wasted
in disputes, in separations, in envy, in sorrow, in
vanities and vain intrigues. Life is like a ripple
140 Tales of King Vikrama
on water. What happiness then can a man get
from it? True men in this Kaliyuga are hard to
find. Daily we see countries decay. Kings are
covetous and the earth yields but scant fruits.
Thieves and wicked men trouble us overmuch. Re-
ligion, penance and truth are hardly to be found.
Monarchs are without righteousness. Brahmans
are corrupt, men are uxorious, women are untrue,
sons revile their .fathers. And of the rest why
speak? Friends plot against friends and all men
hate one another. Because of their irreligion men's
lives have become wretched. Death did not spare
Abhimanyu* although he had Krishna for an uncle
and Arjuna for a father. When death is so strong,
it is folly for men to hunger after happiness.
When death takes away a man, he has to leave
his wealth behind him in his house. His father,
mother, brother and wife seize it and say, "His
body is burdening the earth; let us take it quickly
to the burning ground." Then he who used to
sleep on a couch, sweet with the perfume of flowers,
is stretched upon dry wood and burnt or else
buried in the ground. And with him die alike his
virtues and his vices. When the night has passed,
the day appears; when the moon has set, the sun
rises; when youth is gone, old age comes and when
old age passes, there comes death. In this way the
wheel of time revolves; yet although Man sees it
all he grows no wiser. Behold! in the Satyayuga
* Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra,
Krishna's sister. Abhimanyu fell in the battle of Kurukshetra
(see Indian Heroes).
The three sons of Govind 141
there lived a famous king called Mandhata* the
renown of whose virtue and valour filled the
whole earth. In the Tretayuga lived the divine
Ramchandra who built a bridge across the ocean;
who destroyed Lanka and killed Ravan. In the
Dwaparayuga ruled King Yudhishthira of whose
victories men still sing. Yet, my friend, Death
spared none of them. The birds that soar in the
sky, the fishes that live in the deeps of the sea
all alike fall into the jaws of death. No one who
has yet lived on earth has escaped sorrow. It is
therefore fruitless to mourn. It is far better to practise
righteousness and to repent, remembering that if
one sorrow has come, many others are sure to
In this way Vishnuswami exhorted Govind.
The latter reflected that it was useless to sit and
mourn idly and that it would be better to do some-
thing by which he could acquire merit. He called
his sons and said, "My sons, I am about to begin
a sacrifice. Bring me a tortoise from the sea." As
he ordered, his sons went to the seashore and gave
a fisherman a rupee to catch a tortoise. When he
had caught one, the three brothers instead of tak-
ing it to their father began to quarrel among
* King Mandhata was the son of King Yuvanaswa. He
was the father of Purukutsa the founder of the house of
Ayodhya in which was born the divine hero Ramchandra.
King Mandhata having conquered all the earth conceived the
impious idea of conquering all heaven also. But Indra sent
against him a demon called Yavanasura who defeated and
142 Tales of King Vikrama
themselves, one said, "I am a great judge of
cookery. If I touch the tortoise, it will make my
hands smell". The second said, " If you are a great
judge of cookery, yet I am no fool either. I am a
great judge of the fair sex. Therefore, I shall not
demean myself by touching the tortoise". The
eldest son said, "I am a great judge of beds and
therefore, I shall not touch the tortoise". In the
end they left the tortoise and quarrelling all the
way went to lay their case before the king.
The sentry announced to the king that three
Brahmans had come to lay a case before him.
The king sent for them and asked, "What is your
dispute?" The youngest brother said, "Great King!
I am a great judge of cookery". The second brother
said, "O Lord of the earth, I am a great judge of
the fair sex". The eldest brother said, "O incar-
nation of Yudhisthira! I am a great judge of
beds. We are quarrelling as to who is the clever-
est among us. Decide between us, we pray you".
The king replied, "You must each display before
me your talents". "Very well," agreed the brothers.
The king gave orders that various kinds of
foods and dishes should be got ready. The cook
prepared a banquet and placed it before him who
was a great judge of cookery. As he lifted the
first mouthful to his lips, he noticed a bad smell;
he threw away the food, washed his hands and
went to the king. " O reverened sir," said the king,
"did you not like your meal?" "Great King,"
replied the Brahman, "I should have enjoyed it
greatly, had the food not smelt bad". "But what
The three sons of Govind 143
made it smell?" asked the king. "Great King,"
answered the Brahman, "the rice was grown in a
burning ground and so it smells of dead bodies".
The king sent for his store-keeper and asked him
from what village the rice had come. "Great King,"
said the store-keeper, " the rice came from Shilapuri".
The king sent for the headman of Shilapuri and
asked him in what field the rice had grown.
"Great King," said the headman, "the rice grew in
a cultivated part of the burning ground". When
the king heard this, he said to the Brahman, "Yes,
indeed! you are a great judge of cookery".
Next he sent a beautiful woman to the judge
of the fair sex and peeped through a hole in the
door to see what he would do. After they had
talked together some time, the Brahman turned
his back on her. When the king saw this, he went
to his own room. Next morning the king sent for
the Brahman and said, " Well ; what did you think
of the lady?" "I did not admire her at all," said
the Brahman. "But why?" asked the king.
"Because," said the Brahman, "she smelt of goats".
The king sent for his attendant and asked him
whence he had brought the woman, and whence
she had come, and who she was. "She is my
sister's daughter," said the attendant, "her mother
died when she was three months old, and I brought
her up on goat's milk". When the king heard this,
he said to the Brahman, "Yes; you are certainly a
great judge of the fair sex".
Next the king had a number of beautiful soft
mattresses placed on a bed and bade him who
144 Tales of King Vikrama
was a great judge of beds sleep on it. Next
morning the king sent for him and said, "Well,
did you sleep soundly all night?" "Great King,"
answered the Brahman, "I did not sleep a wink
all night". "Why?" asked the king. "There was,
Great King," said the Brahman, "in the seventh
mattress a single hair which irritated me; so I
could not sleep". They searched the seventh mat-
tress and found the hair. Then he said to the
Brahman, "Yes; you are certainly a good judge
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, who would you say was the cleverest
of the three brothers?" "The judge of beds," said
King Vikrama. When he heard the king's words,
the oilman's son began once more to hang from
the tree. King Vikrama went back, took him down
and began to retrace his steps. As he went, the
oilman's son began his twenty-fourth tale.
INSTANTLY THE DEAD GIRL AROSE
THE TWENTY-FOURTH TALE
ONCE upon a time there lived in Kalingam a
Brahman named Kashyasharma. He had a
beautiful wife whose name was Somadatta.
He never ceased from making sacrifices and
so it befell that his wife bore him a son. When
the boy was five years old, he began to learn the
sacred books and when he was twelve, he was as
wise as the wisest and he served his father with
unfaltering devotion. After some little time he
died. His parents grieved and mourned for him.
When the townspeople came to hear of it, they too
sorrowed much and carried him to the burning
ground. When they looked at his body as it lay
on the pyre, they said one to the other, "Look!
Death has in no way robbed the boy of his beauty."
Now it so happened that in the burning
ground lived an anchorite who practised austeri-
ties there. When he heard the words of the mour-
ners, he said to himself, "My body has become
very old, yet the austerities which I set out to
perform are not completed. Now that by good
luck the body of a boy has come here, I shall
enter it. Then I shall bring my austerities to a
successful ending". Thereafter the anchorite en-
tered the boy's body. Then as if he had just
awakened, he cried " Shiva ! Shiva ! " and rose to his
feet. All the bystanders were amazed. They took
the boy home and went to their own houses. His
father was so affected by the marvel that he
The Anchorite 147
became a wandering beggar. The anchorite then
wept and afterwards laughed.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, why did the anchorite first laugh and
then weep?" "The anchorite," answered King
Vikrama, "laughed in his joy that he had studied
from boyhood the art of passing from his own
body to another. Then he wept because he
grieved that he should have to leave his own body
which he loved well." When King Vikrama had
finished speaking, he saw that he was alone. He
realised that he had once more broken his promise.
Returning to the burning ground he flung the
dead body across his back and began to retrace
his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began to
tell his twenty-fifth tale.
THE TWENTY-FIFTH TALE
KING MAHABAL, HIS QUEEN
ONCE upon a time there ruled in the town of
Dharmapur in the Deccan a king called
Mahabal. It so happened that his enemies
gathered a great army and besieged the
capital. For some time King Mahabal resisted gal-
lantly. But one night when half his army had
deserted, and the other half were dead, he fled
with his wife and daughter into the forest. After
they had walked some miles, day dawned. The
king left his wife and daughter and went into a
village to buy food. As he went, a body of Bhils
attacked him. But the king was a brave man and
began to shoot at them with his bow and arrows.
They in turn began to shoot at him.
After the king had killed several Bhils, one of
their arrows entered his forehead. He fell down
unconscious. Thereupon a base born Bhil rushed
up and cut off his head. When the queen and the
princess learnt what had befallen the king, they
began to weep and beat their breasts. They
walked on for several miles. Then too weary to
walk farther, they sat down and began to lament
It so chanced that a certain King Chandrasen
and his son had gone out hunting. In their chase
they came to this forest and saw the tracks of the
two women. The king said, "How come these
King Mahabal, his Queen & Daughter 149
men's tracks in so wild a spot?" His son answered,
"They are women's not men's tracks. Men do not
have such small feet". The king replied, "You
are right. The footprints are too small to be
men's". The prince said, "Only two women have
come along this path". The king then said, "Come
along then, let us hunt them out. If we find them,
you shall marry the woman who made the big
footprints, and I shall marry the one who made
the small footprints". The prince agreed. After
a short search, they found the queen and the prin-
cess. All parties were delighted to meet. The
king and the prince lifted the queen and the prin-
cess upon their horses and, as they had agreed,
the king married the princess and the prince
married the queen.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King
Vikrama, tell me what relation to each other were
the children of the two marriages. The king was
utterly nonplussed and could make no answer.
The oilman's son was pleased and said, "O king,
I have seen your courage and I am pleased with
you. Now listen to me. That Shantashil who
came to your city with his hairs all standing out
like thorns and his body as dry as an old stick,
that Shantashil who sent you to bring me to him
and who is now sitting and repeating incantations
in the burning ground, he seeks to kill you. Now
I warn you that when he has finished his horrible
rites, he will say to you, "O king, you should pro-
strate yourself before the god". You must then
answer, "I have never yet prostrated myself before
150 Tales of King Vikrama
anyone. I do not know how to do it, therefore, be
so kind as to show me how?" He will then show
you and as he does so, cut his head off with a
single swordblow. If you do, you will rule for
ever. But if you do not, he will kill you and will
rule for ever in your stead."
When the oilman's son had said this, his ghost
left the dead body. The king took it to the an-
chorite who was very pleased to see it and praised
the king warmly. Then saying spells all the time
he stretched it out at full length. Next he lit a
sacred fire and seating himself with his face to the
south offered to the *god incence, flowers, ghee,
a lighted lamp, rice, fruits and betel nut. When
the ceremony was over, he said, " O king, prostrate
yourself before the god. If you do, your glory
and your valour will grow until the eight magical
powers and the nine treasures of Kuber will abide
in your palace". But the king remembered what
the oilman's son had told him. With clasped
hands and in very humble tones he said to the
anchorite, "Reverend sir, I do not know how to
prostrate myself before the deity. You are my
spiritual teacher. Be so gracious as to shew me".
The anchorite bent down to shew the king.
Directly he bent down, the king struck him such
a blow with his sword that his head fell off his
body. Directly afterwards the ghost of the oilman's
son appeared and scattered flowers over the king.
It is written in the sacred books that it is no
* The god was presumably Shiva.
King Mahabal, his Queen & Daughter 151
sin to slay one who seeks to take a man's life.
The god Indra and the other gods were so pleased
with the king's bravery, that they came down in their
celestial chariots afid applauded King Vikrama.
The god Indra said, " O brave and gallant King, I
am pleased with you, ask any boon of me you
will". The king clasped his hands and said
"Great God, I would ask you that the whole
world should know the twenty-five tales which the
oilman's son told me". "So long as there are moon
and sun and earth and heaven," replied Indra>
"so long shall these tales be told, and so long will
your kingdom endure over the whole earth".
With these words Indra and the other gods
went back each to his own dwelling place. The
king threw both the dead bodies into a cauldron
of boiling oil. As he did so, two male figures
appeared before him with clasped hands. "Great
King," they said, "what are your commands?"
"Go now," said the king, "but you must appear
again whenever I need you".
"We are at your orders," said the two male
figures and vanished. King Vikrama then went
back to rule his kingdom.
THE END OF KING VIKRAMA
"W'TNDER the blessing of the god Indra the
I fame of King Vikrama spread over the
^J whole world. One day the god Indra fear-
ing the merit that by his penances the Rishi
Vishwamitra had gained, resolved to stop them by
sending either Rambha or Urvasi to win him from
them. Both dancing girls were such mistresses of
their art that even Indra could not decide between
them. At last the Sage Narad said to the god,
"O Lord of Lords! there is only one, and only one
who can settle this question, King Vikrama of
Ujjain, for none is so versed, as he is, in the
science of dancing". The god Indra approved the
words of the sage and sent his charioteer Matali
to invite King Vikrama to Indra's heaven. When
King Vikrama came in answer to Indra's summons,
the god paid him great honour and seated him
close to his own throne. Then he sent for Rambha
and bade her dance before King Vikrama. All
that day Rambha displayed her marvellous skill
to the king, who sat watching her wrapt in ad-
miration. Next day the god Indra sent for Urvasi
and bade her dance before King Vikrama. Won-
derful as Rambha's dancing had been, it was yet
surpassed by the dancing of Urvasi, and at the
close of the second day, King Vikrama pronounced
her victorious. The King Indra pleased at the
judgment of King Vikrama, gave the king presents
of rich clothes and a wonderful golden throne set
with precious stones and hung round with thirty-two
The end of King Vikrama 153
golden dolls. The throne had no steps so that he
who mounted it had to climb into the seat by
placing his foot on the head of one of the golden
dolls. The king after thanking the god for his
gifts asked for and received leave to return to
Ujjain. There he set up the golden throne and
sitting on it dispensed justice such as has never
been known before or afterwards.
After many many years many signs and portents
were seen by the men of Ujjain. Comets coursed
across the heavens, the earth quaked, the colour
of the sky turned from blue to red. King Vikrama
sent for his astrologers and asked them the cause
of the omens. The astrologers answered, "O king,
the earthquakes and the comets can have but one
meaning, the , death of the king". King Vikrama
said, "Nay, that cannot be. Once by my austeri-
ties I won a boon from the gods. I asked them
that I should not die save by the hand of one
born of a girl two-and-a-half years old. The gods
granted my prayer; and as no such birth can
happen, I shall live for ever." The astrologers
replied, "Nothing, O King, is impossible to divinity.
Such a man may be living now and making ready
to slay you". When King Vikrama heard the
astrologers' words, he called to him Vetal, the king
of the ghosts and said, "Ghost-lord, go forth and
wander over all the earth, search every village,
town and city to find out whether there lives on
earth anyone born of a mother but two-and-a-half
years old". King Vetal wandered over the whole
earth until at last he came to the town of Prati-
154 Tales of King Vikrama.
shtan. There he saw in the house of a potter a
little boy and a little girl, hardly any older, play-
ing together. He asked them how they were
related. The little girl replied, "This is my son."
"Where is your father?" asked king Vetal of the
little girl. She pointed to a Brahman and King
Vetal questioned him about the little girl and boy.
"The little girl is my daughter," said the Brahman
"and the little boy is her son." King Vetal could
not believe his ears and said angrily to the
Brahman, "But how can that be?" The Brahman
answered, "The ways of God are inscrutable. The
Serpent King loved my daughter and she bore
him the little boy yonder. His name is Shali-
On hearing this King Vetal rode with all speed
to Ujjain and told King Vikrama all that he had
heard and seen. King Vikrama rewarded King
Vetal richly and taking his sword rode to Prati-
shtan city. Finding out the potter's house, he went
up to Shalivahan with sword raised, meaning to
kill him. But before the sword could fall, Shali-
vahan struck King Vikrama so fierce a blow with
his toy club that King Vikrama fell to the ground
and died instantly. When the news of King
Vikrama's death reached Ujjain, all his queens
wished to burn themselves on his body. But the
ministers were in great perplexity for King
Vikrama had left no son. Then the prime mini-
ster Bhatti by name questioned his queens and
learning that one was expecting a child in two
months time, forbade her to burn herself and de-
The end of King Vikrama 155
clared her unborn son to be king of Ujjain. Du-
ring the ceremony a heavenly voice was heard to
say, "Never will there be a king fit to sit on
the throne of King Vikrama. Let a good field be
chosen and the throne buried in it." As the voice
commanded, so King Vikrama's councillors did, and
choosing the richest field in Ujjain they buried in
it the throne given by the god Indra to King
C. A. KINCAID, cv.o., i.c.s.
TALES FROM THE INDIAN EPICS. Crown 8vo, pp. 128.
With six full-page illustrations by M. V. Dhurandhar,
Price Re. 1-1-0.
The great popularity of MR. KJNCAID'S Indian Heroes, his
charming style and sympathetic treatment ensure success to
this new book of stories. The author's attempt in narrating
the ten stories eight of which are taken from the Adi Parva
or the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata and the other two
from the Ramayana, Bala Kandam, in his usual charming
and easy simple English has achieved great success.
THE INDIAN HEROES Crown 8vo, pp. 160. With ten
full-page illustrations by M. V. Dhurandhar, Price Rs. 1-2-0.
A collection of eighteen stories taken from the Ramayana
and the Mahabharata. The author has followed the style
of Charles Kingsley's Heroes not only in the spirit in which
he has treated his materials, but a) so in his style, which
is both simple and worthy of the subject. The stories narrate
some of the greatest epics in the world, and it is hoped that
they will appeal to a large number of readers, and the book
has qualities which fit it admirably for use as a supple-
mentary reader in Indian High Schools.
The Times of India says "It is a noble story, and
Mr. Kincaid tells it in a simple and straight forward fashi-
on, which strikes exactly the required note. It should find
a place on all school and college bookshelves."
TALES OF THE SAINTS OF PANDHARPUR. Crown 8vo,
pp, 120. Full cloth Binding. Price Re. 1-11-0
An English translation of Mahipathi's Bhaktivijaya, a
book that has been rendered into several vernaculars of
South India. In its English dress it is equally admirable.
The style is very simple and chaste. The very fact that no
distinction is made between Mahomedan and Hindu devotees
is enough indication of the breadth of religious vision that
it is the aim of the book to teach.
The Mysore University Hdag-azine says " This is a collec-
tion of beautiful stories beautifully presented. It is eminent-
ly adapted for use in the lower Forms of English High
A HISTORY OF THE MAHRATHA PEOPLE. Vol. /. From
the earliest times to the death of Shivaji. In collaboration
with RAO BAHADUR D. B. PARASNIS Demy 8vo, pp.
800. Cloth, with seven illustrations and two maps.
Price Rs. 7-0-0.
PATHS OF PEACE
Book I., By Estelle Ross . . Price, limp cloth, Is. 4d. net.*
Cloth boards Is. 8d
Book II., By Mrs. Laurence Binyon Price, limp cloth, Is. 8d.
Cloth boards, 2s. Od.
IN these two books the authors have told the stories of men
and women in the world's history who have accomplished
great things for the good of their fellow men by peaceful means.
The characters dealt with are explorers like Franklin and
Captain Scott, philanthropists like John Howard and Lord
Shaftesbury, artists like Leonardo and Millet, musicians like
Beethoven, men of science like Galileo and Pasteur. The books
are very fully illustrated with portraits and other drawings.
THE YOUNG PATRIOT READERS
Large Crown 8vo. Fully Illustrated.
Book I (for Standard III) . . Price 2s. 4d. net.
Book II (for Standard IV) . 2s. 6d.
Book III (for Standard V) . . 2s. 9d.
Book IV (for Standard VI.) . 3s. 6d.
rpHE volumes of this set of reading books comprise stories,
J- biographies, historical narratives, essays, speeches, and
poems, all related more or less closely to the idea of Patriotism.
The subject is broadly regarded; the lessons are free from
' jingoism' and from any exaltation of the military spirit, and it
is fully recognized that Patriotism is a virtue not of one country
The matter in the first three books is almost entirely new,
and has been written expressly for the series. The fourth
book consists of selections from standard authors. Many of
the pieces in each book are of considerable length, demanding
of the pupils the same sustained attention as continuous readers.
The illustrations have been specially drawn, and are not old
pictures to which new text has been written a method frequently
employed, but never satisfactory.
Each book concludes with a number of exercises dealing
with the subject-matter as well as the text of the reading
lessons. The higher books are also provided with notes where
such are needed.
In all material respects paper, print, and binding these
books are equal to the best. They conform in every point
to the recommendations of the British Association's Report
on the Influence of School-books on Eyesight.
HERBERT STRANG'S READERS
(For European and A. V. Schools). Is. 2d. net each.
GRADE I. FOR CHILDREN OF 7 and 10.
Rough: The Story of a Dog. By MRS. HERBERT STRANG.
A Stitch in Time : A Story of Home Life. By EVELYN WARD.
The Golden Gate: A First Book of Poetry.
The Magic Ragman: A Dream Story. By AGNES FROME.
Neddy: The Story of a Donkey. By MRS. HERBERT STRANG.
GRADE II. FOR CHILDREN OF 10 and 12.
A Little Norman Maid: A Story of the Norman Conquest.
By MRS. HERBERT STRANG.
Brave Margret : A Story of a Girl's Heroism. By MRS. HERBERT
The Boy Who Would Not Learn : By HERBERT STRANG.
Little Talks about Birds and Beasts: By MAY BYRON.
GRADE III. FOR CHILDREN OF 12 and 14.
Cerdic the Saxon: A Story of the Danish Invasions.
Our Great Adventure: A Story of a Hundred Years Ago.
Through the North Country.
The Story of Joan of Arc.
In Trafalgar's Bay.
The World War.
Field and Forest Folk: By EOWARD THORNTON.
The Story of Robert Bruce: By LEWIS SPENCE.
The Story of William Wallace: By LEWIS SPENCE.
The Story of Nelson. By ARTHUR O. COOKE.
The Story of Lord Kitchener. By ARTHUR O. COOKE.
GRADE IV. FOR CHFLDREN ABOVE 12.
The Silver Shot. A Story of the Sixteenth Century. By
The Story of Francis Drake. By H. RUSSEL FORD.
The Story of Napoleon. By ARTHUR O. COOKE.
A Prisoner in Spain. By HERBERT STRANG.
The Story of Lord Roberts. By ARTHUR O. COOKE.
Some Famous Women. By MARGARET ASHWORTH.
This new series includes stories, historical and domestic: lives of great
characters: romance: travel: nature study, etc. All the matter is new, original
and copyright. The chief features of the series are: (1) The grading; each
volume being carefully suited to the capacities of pupils. (2) Specially large
types. (3) Good literary style guaranteed by the name of the Editor.
(4) Beautiful illustrations, specially drawn by the best artists with a
THE NEW WORLD GEOGRAPHIES
BY HERBERT PICKLES, B.A., B. Sc.
Crown 8vo, Cloth, with Maps and Illustrations-
1. Woods, Fields & Sea. ls.8d.net.
2. Over Land and Sea. Is. 10d.net.
3. The World and its Wealth.
4. White Man's Lands.
5. Regions and Nations.
6. Britain and British Trade.
A SERIES of books dealing with Physical, Economic, and
Historical Geography in a simple and interesting fashion, the
distinctive feature being that the subject is regarded as a study of
peoples and their activities, rather than of lands and their products.
The six books have been designed to cover generously the three
stages set forth in the Board of Education 'Suggestions for the
Teaching of Geography' (Circular 834), two books to each stage.
In the first stage, geographical principles are associated with
nature study, and the narrative aims at creating the atmosphere
of the open country. Scenes in distant lands are introduced
through the medium of bird migration, and the journeys of
famous travellers and explorers.
The second stage includes a survey of the world, with special
attention to physical features, their influence upon man's activities
in general, and upon thebuilding of the British Empire in particular.
The third stage treats the world regionally, and traces the
influence of regional characteristics on the rise and progress of
The series as a whole leads up to a consideration of Britain
and her relation with the rest of the world, which forms the
theme of the last book.
The series provides a course of Geography for Elementary
Schools, and for lower and middle forms in Secondary Schools.
The later books are very suitable for use in Continuation Schools.
A Series of Simple Geographical Stories.
BY M. E. GULLICK
Price, paper cover, 6d. net each : limp cloth, 8d. net.
1. The Little Brown Girl.
2. The Pig-tail Boy.
3. The Sunflower Lantern.
4. The Banana Boy.
5. The Sheik's Daughter.
6. Manuel's Adventure.
IN these little books the author has contrived to convey a cer-
tain amount of geographical information in the guise of stories.
The scenes are laid in foreign lands ; the incidents are such as
might occur in the lives of children ; and the language and style
are studiously simple- Each book is illustrated with four
charming colour pictures.
OF CURRENT ENGLISH
H. W. FOWLER and F. G. FOWLER
Authors of 'The King's English'
From the Oxford Dictionary
Large Crown 8vo, Pp. xii+1044, cloth. Price Rs. 4-11.
The most accurate and comprehensive dictionary hitherto
placed within the reach of Indian students.
Some of the special features of this work are:
The large amount of space given to common words.
The copious use of illustrative sentences-
The curtest possible treatment of uncommon words or those fitter for
the encyclopaedia than the dictionary.
The severest economy of expression that readers can be expected to put
The words or senses of words given are those 'current'.
The authors 'include many words and senses that are fossilized having
in themselves no life or capacity for further development, but kept extant by
being enshrined in perhaps a single proverb or phrase'.
If fewer scientific and technical terms are given, colloquial, facetious,
slang, and vulgar expressions are admitted freely with a cautionary label.
The spelling is for the most part, but not invariably, that of the
Oxford English Dictionary.
When the pronunciation of a word is not sufficiently determined by
the placing of the stress-mark or by vowel quantities, further information is
appended in brackets
Etymology is given at the end of each article.
The Times, London says " In everything that we ordinarily expect^of
a popular Dictionary spelling, pronunciations, definitions, etymologies it
inherits the superiority of the Oxford Dictionary from which it is adapted.
In everything else that can concern a Dictionary (and how much thai is!), it
is not only ivithout a superior, it is literally without a rival."
OXFOED UNIVERSITY PRESS
LONDON, BOMBAY, MADRAS, CALCUTTA, LAHORE
THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE
AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS
WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY
W/LL INCREASE TO so CENTS ON THE FOURTH
DAY AND TO $1.OO ON THE SEVENTH DAY
BEC.CIR. JAN 26*83
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY